Earlier this week, I was the guest of the weekly SMCHAT, a Twitter-based group that is focused on innovation in social media. The topic was mind mapping. As expected, it was a fast-paced, information-packed session, with many excellent questions and a lot of genuine interest in the subject from participants. The topics included:
- How can mind mapping software be used to achieve breakthroughs in collaboration?
- How can you gain corporate buy-in to purchase mind mapping software (always a challenge, because the IT department rules the desktop)?
- What are some recent innovations in mind mapping (smart phones, tablets and innovative web-based apps)?
- How am I using these innovations in my work?
In addition, SMCHAT participants asked many other questions during the course of this one-hour session. I compiled the list of tweets from it using TwapperKeeper, and they are now available here as a PDF file.
The story of how I managed this maelstrom of activity is an interesting one, and it involves a mind map. First, I knew going into this session what the questions were going to be. So I prepared a mind map, with major topics representing each of the four main questions. I then brainstormed what I would ideally like to say in response to each question. These weren’t intended to be “canned” answers that I would rely on during the chat, but rather talking points that I could refer to during the discussion.
During the chat, I used a two-screen set up: The first screen had my mind map, displayed full size. The second contained two Twitter apps. The first, HootSuite, was what I used to post tweets to the discussion. I had columns open to see if I received any direct messages from the SMCHAT host during the course of the discussion, so I wouldn’t miss any important communications from Kelli Schmith, the host of this session.
Most Twitter clients only update about every minute or so, which is far too slow for a fast-paced Twitter chat, especially if it’s a topic that participants feel strongly about – which this one definitely was! So I opened another app called TwitterFall in a browser window next to HootSuite and set it up with the hashtag #SMCHAT. Here’s what it looks like (I think this link should work, even if you’re not logged in. I tested it with two browsers). TwitterFall displays incoming tweets in real time, as if they were a “waterfall” of tweets, cascading down the screen. It has a full-screen option, which hides all of the extraneous interface elements and displays only the tweets that meet your search criteria.
TwitterFall is a bit overwhelming at first, but it made it possible for me to visualize the flow of discussion as quickly as it was happening. This enabled me to see if any participants had posted questions that I needed to answer, to post add-on comments to the knowledge that others were sharing and to keep an eye on the chat host, so I would know when she was ready to move on to the next question.
This set-up worked like a charm. I was able to keep up with the flow of discussion and questions using TwitterFall, and post relevant responses quickly. I was also able to glance at my mind map, and type in my responses to the main session questions. I didn’t want to get caught up in the moment and forget why I was there. So I tried to make my tweets a balance of responses to the ad hoc questions and issues that participants raised as well as the main points I wanted to make in response to each of the four main questions.
If you’re the guest of a lively Twitter chat like this one, you’ll find it’s the quickest hour you’ll ever spend in your life. But ultimately it’s one of the most fulfilling. You’ll get to meet some very smart, engaged people who you can add to your list of relationships on Twitter, and you get a sense for what’s on the minds of people – always valuable when you’re a publisher like me.
Thanks again to Kelli Schmith and the great people of SMCHAT for having me. It was a blast!