The Specialness of Jeff Pulver and his 140 Characters Conference

From a podium recently, I heard someone lament the fact that his email address was announced to a crowd of about 800.

The show wasn’t the 140 Characters Conference and the speaker wasn’t Jeff Pulver, who not only gives his contact information, he gives his soul – and countless hugs in a community that is quite extraordinary and grows everyday.

Having followed the community from afar (not recommended, by the way), I was introduced to Jeff by my friend Hank Wasiak (@hankwasiak), who has passion, friendship and inclusiveness in common with Jeff.

As a result of Hank’s recommendation, Jeff asked me to speak at the recently held conference at the 92nd Street Y in New York City. But this post isn’t about me (if you choose to, you can view my talk here /jeffhasen/video-of-my-140-characters-conference-talk-on.)

Regrettably, other commitments kept me from hearing and seeing some of the presentations over the two days, but what I experienced was unique, touching, and inspiring.

Jeff is a master curator so mentioning just a few of the talks doesn’t do the event or the community members justice.

But here’s some of what I’ll remember:

The Ladies of Lupus on Twitter who eloquently and passionately told us of the struggles with the disease, but also the power of one person reaching out to another in the middle of the night just to say on Twitter, “I’m here for you”.

Then there is Alon Nir, the funny and caring Israeli who receives prayers via @thekotel on Twitter from all over the world and for no cost places them between the stones of the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

“Who needs a business plan?” Alon asked from the stage. “Just don’t monetize.”

Instead, he said, “create meaning and affect change.”

Over the two days, I heard of the real-time web’s effect on struggling villages, the people rising up in Tunisia and Cairo, and of the changes to news coverage and what Dan Gillmor (@dangillmor) called the 14,400-second news cycle.

To sum up the experience, I’ll remember a particular tweet that Alon shared.

“Selfless deeds inspire me,” she wrote. “Now I’m in a soup kitchen helping and so is my boyfriend.”

Words, thanks to Jeff Pulver, to not only remember but to live by.