I just asked a question of one of the speakers in the Second Life session at the start of day 2 of the Educause SW Regional Conference 2008 in Houston (US) without ever leaving my office in Bath (UK).
Now, you are probably thinking, "So what? There's nothing particularly special about that in this day and age!". And you'd be right. At least in part. But the somewhat serendipitous way in which I got to virtually attend the conference and interact with the speakers is more unusual, and indicative of how things are changing in the loosely-coupled world we now inhabit.
I use Twitter a lot. It's "do one simple thing and do it well" approach hits all the right buttons for me and I find myself using it more and more.
One of the people I follow on Twitter is called @cmduke. As far as I know, I have never met @cmduke and I don't know much about him (I'm assuming he is a him - as you know, on the Internet no-one knows you are a dog) other than that his first name is Chris and he maintains a Second Life blog, written under his SL avatar name of Topher Zwiers, called Muve Forward. I'm guessing that the reason I follow him on Twitter is because of the blog - though I could be wrong. I don't actually remember how or why I started following him on Twitter to be honest - which is part of the fun!
Earlier on today Chris tweeted (i.e. sent a micro-blog via Twitter) to say that he was about to start live-blogging the Second Life session at Educause SW. Intrigued, I followed the TinyURL Chris had embedded into his tweet in order to take a look. The link took me to a page on Chris' site containing an embedded CoveritLive live-blogging session. Chris was already in full swing... there's an art to live-blogging and as far as I can tell Chris has a pretty good handle on it.
CoveritLive looks like an interesting tool - one that I'll investigate further in due course (though I'm sure there are alternatives). It basically provides the reader with a Web-based interface to a stream of live-blogging entries written by the author (in this case, Chris), updated in real-time. As a reader, you get the opportunity to make comments and ask questions in real time (moderated by the live-blog author). In this way, Chris was kind enough to relay one of my questions on to the presenters of the session, with their answer coming back to me thru the live-blog. Neat.
Once the live-blog session is over, the same URL takes you to an archive of the session.
Now, as I said above, in many respects there is nothing particularly unusual or special about this scenario and readers of this blog will probably be very familiar with similar scenarios in their day-to-day work. I repeat it here only because I think it represents an interesting shift in how we do things - the serendipity of social networks like Twitter and Facebook and the easy availability of high-quality Web 2.0 tools is fundamentally changing the way we do things. Or so it seems to me anyway.
For info... Chris is covering many of the remaining sessions at Educause SW. See here for details.