Kara Visits the Oxford Social Media Convention: I Say Twitt-er, You Say Twitt-ah

Published on September 18, 2009
by Kara Swisher


Today, BoomTown has traveled to England to see the Queen, but mostly to attend and speak at a conference at the University of Oxford, titled “Oxford Social Media Convention: Assessing the Evolution, Impact and Potential of Social Media.”

In other words: What is up with this Twitter thing, but in a British accent.

(By the way, the Twitter stream on the conference can be found at #oxsmc09.)

Well, I can report here that some folks are perplexed by the growing size and valuation of the San Francisco microblogging service, some adore it and some don’t use it at all, thank you veddy much.

Of course, there is a whole lot more going on, including: Discussions of the changing relationship between blogs and mainstream media, making science more social, the growth of the corporate blog and the political impact of social media.

I am on the panel about the ways companies need to use social networking, as well as a wrap-up on the overall impact of this key Internet trend.

So far today, it seems people here are still chewing over the changes wrought by Facebook, Twitter and the blogs and the way the audience has taken over the conversation from the so-called professionals.

In other words, as in the U.S., the social trend is still seen as an experiment rather than the real thing.

In the media session, for example, mainstream journalists here seemed to still be stuck in their whiny woe-is-me mode rather than leaning forward and trying to come up with ways to ride the latest wave of change.

When many kept harping on the issue of accuracy in the blogosphere, I could not resist and asked: “Can you give me the exact date when the old media will stop whining about new media?”

I did not get an answer, but I can tell you it better be quick, especially as these innovative social sites grow larger and larger, evidence that consumers like what’s happening.

So does the guy from Facebook, of course, the social networking service that announced it had reached an astonishing 300-million users mark last week.

“It’s very exciting,” said Richard Allan, Facebook’s European policy director, discussing how social media are evolving in ways that everyone still cannot imagine.

I’d agree.

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