Aristotle on Twitter, Mom Knows Best, and Other Lessons from SXSWi 2009

Is Aristotle on Twitter

If Aristotle were on Twitter, he'd be a big retweeter.

Getting attention in a cluttered content universe was just one hot topic at South by Southwest Interactive this year, and the question, “Do you give good URL?” aimed to address the point in a delightful panel of  University of Texas at Austin academics.

Maybe my background as an American Studies graduate from UT predisposed me to this panel, but I found it was one of my favorites in the five-day new media conference of more than 6,000 attendees.

The discussion, “Is Aristotle on Twitter?” revisited the great philosopher and addressed the struggle many of us face online–deciphering style from substance. Giving good URL–that is, supplying readers with useful, relevant content via helpful links–indicates BOTH, say the academics.

Generous, appropriate Link Love not only shows your style, but reflects your judgement.  You wouldn’t knowingly pass along something you didn’t find valuable–would you?

While last year Twitter was oft discussed in the context of the horrendous Sarah Lacy/Mark Zuckerberg interview, in 2009 Twitter tips were ubiquitous, as attendees filled conference halls, laptops opened, Tweetdeck loaded.    Example: Retweeting may be the sincerest form of flattery and is strongly encouraged, say the academics.   “Retweeting creates judgement, while tweeting creates familiarity.” 

Other great takeaways:

1. Every cell phone is a media outlet.
2. Retweeting makes readers see through you; tweeting makes readers see you. Both are important.
3. Social media will provide the data helping determine the five things you SHOULD be doing rather than the 50 things you COULD be doing.
4. “Being better is its own word-of-mouth,” Kathy Sierra.
5. Distinguish the urgent from the important, as in don’t respond to “urgent” emails at the expense of those that are important.
6.  The humble “telephone is one of the best branding tools out there, despite being low-tech,” Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappo’s.
7.  The organization chart of the future will have customers at the top, CEOs at the bottom.
8.  When it comes to social media, it’s just as important to be interested as it is to be interesting.
9.  When hiring, chemistry is MORE IMPORTANT than skills.
10.  When you find yourself in the echo chamber, call your mom for a reality check on ideas. Mom frequently DOES know best.

As a mom, I concur.

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