As promised, below are my results from my impromptu and highly unscientific survey on who was tweeting #aam09.
First, a little background.
This is the first conference I have ever tweeted about. In fact, I think that tweeting at and about conferences is still relatively new. And, quite frankly, I am still in shock that Twitter has suddenly exploded in the way that it has--I left my account dormant for over a year because it just seemed, well, silly. So I was very curious to see how useful Twitter could be as a tool to share thoughts about a conference with colleagues both at the conference and those back at home.
I quickly heard complaints, or at least less-than-positive commentary, from various sources: 1) that the quality of the tweets was relatively low, with little content on sessions or lessons learned and more about where people were eating 2) that mostly vendors were tweeting.
The first comment, while disappointing, can be excused. Most people think of Twitter as a personal social space and so are more accustomed to tweeting about meals out and social activity than about the future of museums. Also, the 140 character limit that makes Twitter the micro-blogging site that it is creates an inherent barrier to real sharing of ideas.
But the second comment really peaked my interest: was it true that mostly vendors were tweeting #aam09? Who were all these tweeters who were all a-twitter about the conference, food or otherwise?
So I decided to try to find out!
The results were less than stellar. Now, granted, as @Lidja pointed out to me, there were some big flaws with my survey. I had intended it to be quick and dirty, like a tweet, but she argued that it was too quick and dirty, so as to lack the ability to create meaningful responses. But I was really looking for just an easy way to see if it was mostly emerging museum professionals (EMPs) and/or vendors who were tweeting.
Here are my results. 12 people responded. Then again, I only announced the survey on Twitter and it's easy enough to miss tweets unless you are online right when they happen.
10 an EMP (that answers that question, I guess, except that most of the people I was retweeting and replying to are definitely not EMPs...)
2 other (consultant; non-attendee)
1 a mid-career museum professional
1 a vendor
0 a senior/executive level museum professional
0 a volunteer
0 a board member
Do you work in...
2 visitor services
1 volunteer/docent management
1 I told you I was a vendor
1 Other (would if)
Do you currently work in a museum?
2 No, but I wish I did.
2 No, and how many times do I have to tell you--I'm a vendor!
Does your museum use Twitter?
4 I don't work for a museum, but my company/organization uses Twitter.
2 No, but I sure do--tweet! tweet!
1 No, but it wants to.
0 What's Twitter?
I don't have enough respondents for the results to be statistically significant--they could all be spurious and meaningless. But that doesn't mean that this exercise was a waste of time. For one thing, these results have posed all sorts of follow-up questions that I am now mulling over: How big are these museums? What disciplines do the museums represent--art? history? science? Why are they Twittering? Do they find Twitter useful? Would they recommend other museums and organizations sign up and start tweeting?
So really, rather than having results for you, I only have more questions!