Let's be social together

May 8, 2011

On Friday, I had the privilege of being the keynote speaker for a half-day social media workshop for the University of Chicago campus communicators.

It was an honor to be invited back to the city where my grandparents lived. Indeed, I can draw a direct line from the writing life of my grandfathers, which I credited in the opening sentences of my essay When blogging, face the conversation, to the reasons I was standing before the 125 people in the auditorium of the university’s International House (quite a few who are doing some great work online and using social media tools).

Here’s what I wrote back in 2006:

For years, both my grandfathers regularly sent typewritten letters to their family members, who were scattered from coast to coast. Grandpa Sisco invariably recorded his daily schedule — early morning walk, daily Mass, evening supper out with Grandma — while Grandpa Zuiker crafted adventure chronicles about fishing trips to the Outer Banks.

I became a writer because they wrote. And then, with the Web, I became a blogger.

And here’s the Prezi (slide presentation) I used this week to share some of my experiences and observations from my decade in blogging, social media and online community building.

Note the first set of slides show my grandfathers, including Grandpa Sisco’s storied postcard — mailed in 1961 and returned to him in 2003, having been lost behind the post office counter all those years — that surprised me with the messages on the back. Take a look, and notice how his typewritten postcard could today have been communicated with Twitter: the first part of his message is 137 characters, the second part is 111 characters (postcard photo is also on my Flickr account here and here).

Thanks again to John Eckroth and Ankur Thakkar for inviting me to UChicago, and to Rhianna Wisniewski for suggesting me as a speaker (she attended ScienceOnline2011 and met me there).

Anton Zuiker

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