By: Diane Stirling
Some might argue the notion that “social media,” as many refer to today’s real-time web communication technologies, have existed all along.
Such is the perspective of real-time web thought leader and habitual entrepreneur, Jeff Pulver, who pioneered Voice-over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and today produces the #140conf. Pulver visited Syracuse University on March 2 to meet with School of Information Studies (iSchool) organizers of #140cuse, the first 140 character conference to be presented on a college campus. He relayed a number of unique viewpoints to groups of students across campus during his visit.
A self-titled “technological anthropologist,”Pulver observed that earlier human communication technologies—amateur radio (which he enjoyed as a youngster), citizen-band radio, even party-line telephones (where multiple neighborhood homes were connected by the same telephone wire)—“were social media too. Anytime people get together and effectively communicate to one another, that’s a social medium,” he said.
As someone who thrives through the human connections he makes, perhaps more than he lives by the technologies he has founded, Pulver is strongly positive about what will be presented—and experienced—at #140cuse, the iSchool’s own version of Pulver’s original “the state of now” technology-application showcase.
“Before I came to Syracuse, my first gut feeling was that it’s going to be amazing. Meeting with the team and being at the iSchool has amplified my own beliefs. I believe this will be an awesome event – from the preparation, the thinking, the people who will be speaking here, the people who are working on this and who want to create an experience. I’m humbled by the team that’s come together to produce it,” the world-renowned expert said. “The DNA of the iSchool is very unique, and their adaptation of #140cuse is an awe-inspiring experience. I believe every word, every syllable of that,” he added. “On April 19, there is going to be an energy present and an overall feeling in the air. If [we] were crop farmers, we’d call it hybrid vigor. #140cuse is going to be filled with hybrid vigor.”
Pulver relayed how attending a #140 conference can bring about profound new perspectives and life-changing personal connections. “The relationships that are created that day will live on, in some cases forever. Every time I do a #140 conference, that’s part of the magic that happens. The people who get connected and whose lives are affected by it don’t even know what hits them sometimes,” he said.
“Connectedness” is much on the mind of Pulver, who has produced a number of #140 conferences throughout the United States and around the world. The people-to-people linkages that occur through today’s technologies have a striking ability to effect social change, he contends. “What we’re seeing now is an ‘ism’ that’s as big a social movement as any in our history—more like an ‘Internet-ism.’ Forty-plus years after the launch of the Internet, what we are having for the first time is a frequency that we all can turn to as human beings, and for the first time in the history of humanity, we’re all on the same frequency.”
To illustrate, Pulver recounted personal experiences where Twitter and geo-locating applications connected people in life-saving ways. When Pulver’s friend and journalist Ann Curry first arrived in Haiti to cover the earthquake, she tweeted that Doctors Without Borders representatives were not being permitted to enter the country. Pulver retweeted Curry’s message. To his surprise, the retweet was picked up at the Pentagon by a U.S. Air Force representative, who verified the situation and replied to Pulver that the situation was being rectified.
Another time, geo-location abilities helped Israeli soldiers Pulver knew find and ultimately save the life of a man trapped in the rubble of a collapsed bodega.
From those and other examples, Pulver believes that technology is impacting human behavior. “Humanity is on the rise. One of the unintended consequences of connectedness is the increase in [human] feeling and awareness. That’s all reflected in the #140 experience,” he said.
#140cuse, will be held all day on April 19 at the Schine Student Center. Thirty-five speakers are scheduled throughout the day. For more information about #140cuse and to register, go to http://140cuse.com.
Pulver said he is working on his own new startup, called 3-rings.com. The alpha version is launching in about one month, and he is looking for a general release later this year.