I'm here at the 140 Characters Conference at New World Stages in Manhattan, where the topic is Twitter, Twitter, Twitter and more Twitter. Twitter!
I'm virtually certain that I'm the only person in the room whose name tag doesn't have his Twitter user name on it. That's because -- shhhh! -- I'm not a user of the insanely popular micro-blogging service. (Yet.)
That makes me something of a pariah here -- I feel like I'm wearing a scarlet @ on my chest -- but it also means I'm learning all kinds of fascinating things that the other people in this auditorium (including my DailyFinance colleague Anthony Massucci) all take for granted. Here are a few things I've learned:
1. Twitter users' favorite thing to Twitter about is Twitter. Or pretty close, anyway. Jeff Pulver, the conference organizer, announced a little while ago that #140conf is the No. 3 topic on Twitter right now, only a little less popular than Iran.
2. Twitter is an oasis of niceness in the desert of casual cruelty that is the internet. That's a function of the two-way communication it enables. Gavin Purcell, a producer for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, says Fallon does all his own tweeting, and seldom has to worry about hecklers. "People aren't negative because may tweet them back, and people don't want to be tweeeted back if they're saying something crappy," he said.
3. Media companies that don't use Twitter wisely risk making enemies. CNBC is an example, says hedge fund manager and Wallstrip creator Howard Lindzon. "I consider it financial spam," he says. "They're saying, 'We don't care about Twitter, really -- we just care about clicks."
4. Twitter geeks are also science-fiction geeks. Shocker, right? Craig Engler of Sci Fi Digital got a big round of applause when he mentioned Battlestar Galactica.
5. Speaking of Sci Fi, its new name is as lame as it seems. When Engler mentioned that the channel had rebranded itself as SyFy, the applause changed to boos.
6. I need to get on Twitter, apparently. Patrick LaForge of The New York Times says it will save me a lot of the time I now waste on web surfing, checking RSS feeds, etc. "What Twitter does is, if you follow the right people and you're careful, they can read the web for you," he said during a panel on Twitter and newspapers. "They can curate it for you."
7. Most of the people in this room don't really need to be here. That's because they're not really here -- they're in the Twitterverse. Liz Strauss pointed this out from the podium, comparing the environment to a different, non-techy conference where she spoke last week. At that event, she said, "ninety percent of the room did not Twitter, and I gotta tell you it was really creepy because they were all looking at me while I was talking, and I'm not used to that anymore."
Lessons from Twitterland