One of the best (although sometimes the most technologically frustrating) aspects of the Twitter community is the regular chats that take place. Identified by hashtag (#), there’s #litchat (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays at 4-5 PM EST, with topics like ‘Continuing discussion of THE CRAFT OF WRITING’), #solopr (a forum for solo public relations practitioners to discuss a wide variety of topics, from the joys and sorrows of working alone to media lists, the bane of every PR practitioner’s existence), #agchat and #onthefarm, two chats that focus on the business of agriculture and the realities of farming in the 21st Century. There’s also #journchat, which brings together public relations pros and journalists. As an information exchange and a positive development in creating greater understanding, #journchat may be one of the most exciting chats on Twitter.
To find any of these chats, log on to Twitter and use your search function to search for them by hashtag (on the far right, under your profile you’ll see a search function – type in #solopr or #litchat). Scroll through the tweets and you’ll discover the chat moderator, whom you can then start following, and the regularly scheduled time for the chat.
When Twitter grinds to an almost-halt, the chats can be a frustrating experience. But that doesn’t happen all that often these days, and the wonderful thing about the chats is the commitment the moderators make to ensure they happen on a regular basis. My hat is off to the lovely Kellye Crane, for instance, who not only organizes the #solopr chat every Wednesday from 1-2PM EST, but ensures she’s got a backup if she’s travelling that day so the chat can continue.
New to Twitter as of Tuesday, November 24 is #askdrstu, a series of five scheduled chats led and moderated by Dr. Stuart Clark, author of the award-winning The Sun Kings: The Unexpected Tragedy of Richard Carrington and the Tale of How Modern Astronomy Began.
Five chats are planned for 2009, on Tuesdays beginning November 24 at 1PM EST (10AM PST, 6PM GMT). Each week the chat will focus on a different popular astronomy topic. The first relates directly to the subject matter of The Sun Kings: “What level of influence does the Sun have on climate change?” Stuart will share what he’s learned from fellow scientists Henrik Svensmark, Mike Lockwood and : Kalevi Mursula in Bruges, where he recently moderated a debate on space weather and its effect on earth’s climate.
The other four chats are scheduled for December 1, 8, 15 and 22. Subjects could/will include topics he explores regularly in his role as a science journalist: ‘What is dark matter?’ ‘What defines a planet?’, and ‘Why isn’t Johannes Kepler better remembered?’
Whether you’re an astronomy buff or neophyte, you’re guaranteed to learn something by participating in the #askdrstu chats.
And if astronomy’s not your cup of tea, check out the hashtags used by the smart, funny people you follow on Twitter and find a chat that does make you want to join the conversation.