Twittamentary Screening at the Buffalo Museum of Science

Up until recently, the iPad Twitter application I was using attached a “member number” to the avatar. I noticed that I was in the neighborhood of 17,300,000, so relatively speaking, I was an “early-middle adopter” when I first logged in and created a profile on December 12, 2008. This was my first Tweet:

“Getting indoctrinated into the vast ocean of play-by-play minutiae of Tweetdom.. Greetings my versatile, mobile comrades and colleagues.”

Tonight I attended the screening of “Twittamentary” that was organized by the Social Media Club of Buffalo and the Advertising Club of Buffalo. It was held at the Buffalo Museum of Science, and if I ever had been there before it was likely in the late ’80s or early ’90s. There were about 35 members of the two clubs in attendance and I was pleasantly surprised by the complimentary ice cream provided by Perry’s (one of the many reasons that it is great to be back in Western New York, now if we could only have a few Sabres games on the horizon…). I chatted with new Ad Club President Charles Fashana, Jay Deuro of Salvation Lamps and past Social Media Club President Nicole Schuman, who introduced the film.

Even though I saw this documentary in Phoenix several months ago at a similar social media association function with more than 100 attendees called “Buzzcation” (by the way, one of the founders (@lafinguy) is a native of Niagara Falls), I was still interested in seeing it again. Schuman explained to the audience that they picked a later showing date for strategic reasons as the theme fit in with this week’s Ad Week events and the partnership between the two clubs.

This time around I was able to focus more on the journey of the movie since it was a smaller crowd and there wasn’t a giant screen scrolling live Tweets next to it like the Phoenix event. Having the screen is also fun, but it was also nice to get immersed in the dialogue between the producers and the subjects as they embarked upon deciphering the meaning and value of Twitter to a variety of people’s lives, personalities and livelihoods. The film runs about 65 minutes and covers snapshots of citizen journalists, musicians, a homeless woman and the Lizard Guy of Hollywood. Several of the early Twitter impact hallmarks are outlined – including the man who Tweeted the first photo of the “Miracle on the Hudson” plane landing.

What the “The Social Network” Hollywood depiction from the creators’ perspective did for the history of Facebook’s start-up period, “Twittamentary” aims to do as an independent, low-budget breakdown of the “consumer” side of Twitter’s early rise to mass popularity beginning in early 2009. When the former first came out, I wondered if Twitter could somehow get a similar cinematic treatment. Perhaps that full-length feature is down the road, and while this may not be the definitive portrait of the world’s “Queen City” networking application, second only to Facebook’s singular domination, it offers an eclectic and occasionally amusing ride. The producers did a great job of getting close to people and capturing high and low points in their lives. An ensuing cross-country excursion to a Twitter conference in Los Angeles serves as not only the documentary’s destination but also becomes the backdrop for the journey that brings less fortunate individuals to the dais to inspire and express gratitude to more well-to-do followers who gave support and praise during their darker days.

Personally, I am left to wonder what might have been if Twitter was around when I lived in Chicago and Seattle, but I am grateful for using it over the last four years, as it has opened my eyes to other people’s interests, knowledge and activities while I have tried to share meaningful information that may be of interest within my network as well.

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