diamond geezer

 Friday, March 27, 2009

How not to use Twitter...

Today's cautionary tale is courtesy of the organisers of the London Bridge Festival, a transpontine arts extravaganza coming to the Thames in July. Here's the set-up for their centrepiece event...
Performers and entertainers required: In 1209 King John opened 'Old' London Bridge. This year will mark its 800th anniversary. To commemorate this and to raise money for The Lord Mayor’s Appeal the London Bridge Anniversary Fair will be held on 11th July. London Bridge will be closed to traffic for the day and the historic bridge will be recreated with craftsmen selling their wares as they would have done hundreds of years ago.
Well that sounds like a lot of fun. Nobody's had the creative gumption to attempt this before. Come the summer I expect this'll be a heavily promoted and much attended event. Go on...
What we need: The Appeal has asked us to find performers to entertain the crowds on the bridge during the day. All are welcome – from poets to jugglers to musicians to actors – but should provide entertainment appropriate to the period that the old bridge stood - 1209 to 1831.
Not a terribly accurate historical re-enactment, then. A complete mix of eras, bundling together bell-jangling jesters and frock-coated thespians. But how are the organisers going to find sufficient entertainers to fill the bridge?
What you do: If you're interested in being involved please send a link to your work using Twitter. It's the easiest and quickest way to collect them.
Hang on? You what? The easiest way for performers to apply to take part in this bridgefest is using Twitter? Are you sure? How is this supposed to work?
First, log in or register with Twitter.
I don't know about you, but I doubt that many Elizabethan jugglers have a Twitter account. I don't see them tweeting away online, sending messages to their friends @HurdyGurdyMan and @WanderingMinstrel. I doubt that the interactive world of social media has yet penetrated the Tudor street entertainment community. But sorry, these are the rules. If you want to juggle piglets on London Bridge in July then you need a Twitter account, no questions asked.
Send a post, also known as a 'tweet', to @LondonFestival, including a link to your work.
Starting the tweet with @LondonFestival is the easy bit. Potential applicants will probably get rather stuck after that. How on earth do you "link to your work" if you're a medieval stilt walker? Do you need a Facebook page? (Hi, I'm Percy Topple and I'm a medieval stilt walker) Do you need a YouTube video? (Hi, this is me wobbling on stilts at Compton Bassett Village Fete) Do you need your own website? (Welcome to medievalstiltwalker.com) This isn't sounding straightforward, not in any way.
The tweet will be seen to the right of this page soon after and it will include your link.
Except that the script on the London Bridge Anniversary Fair website isn't working properly at the moment. The only thing currently visible to the right of the page is Fatal error: require_once() [function.require]: Failed opening required '../../includes/festivalpeople.html' (include_path='/home/greglond/public_html/includes') in /home/greglond/public_html/general/anniversaryfair/index.php on line 153 scriptFAIL
We'll take a look at them and put selected links in an Anniverary Fair mosaic below including a photo. Due to space restrictions we can't promise to include them all. Please note this does not mean you have been selected to perform. It's only to help us decide who would best fit the theme of the day.
This appears to be a very public audition process. You put yourself up for selection using Twitter. The fair's organisers might or might not think you worthy of inclusion in their mosaic. And then they might or might not want to hire you on the day. And everybody reading the webpage will be able to discover the precise point at which the organisers lost interest. It's like they're doing you a favour, rather than the other way round.
You can also use various other services to send us the picture. For example, twicpic.com. There are popular twitter clients that have built-in support for TwitPic.
Help, this is all getting a bit complicated, especially for Twitter novices. And the fact that twicpic.com is a spelling mistake may not be particularly helpful either. Whatever happened to simple means of communication?

Twitter most definitely isn't the easiest and quickest way to collect the application information the festival organisers need. They'd do better with email, or an online form, or indeed any modern communication medium which functions using more than 140 characters. But instead the organisers appear hellbent on using Twitter to gather friends and followers and publicity, just to appear popular, even though their attempt at community-building is at the complete expense of practicality.

Sometimes social media isn't the way to go. Sometimes web 1.0 is best. So if you are a medieval acrobat and you fancy a day being historically brilliant on London Bridge, why not just email Greg and be done with it? And see you there?

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