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Harvest Twestival, re-vamping the Harvest Festival, of old!

Date: 25th of September, 2008
Location: Doon Club, Trafalgar Square, London
Mission: To have a tweet-up with a social conscience.

Confused??  You might be!  Unless you’re a part of the Twitterverse, in which case, you probably enjoyed the Twestival twitter stream, if you weren’t at the Twestival in person!!

For the uninitiated, I haven’t become a Twit, and gone, Twitting mad! No! I’ve actually become a “Twitterer”.

Since signing up to Twitter.com I have started posting 140 character updates, from the web, and from my mobile via SMS, declaring to the world what I’m upto, and sharing my thoughts, in a stream of consciousness kind of way.

The basic question Twitter asks is “What are you doing?”, and typically the answers offer up an insight into what people are thinking or doing at that exact moment.

My initiation into the world of Twitter came at a London Geek Dinner with Moo, where I listened with interest, as @cahoots talked about how she was able to meet people in real life who she had discovered through Twitter, and gotten to know them from their interactions online. I started thinking, hmm…  I wonder if I could meet some more likeminded interesting people on this Twitter thing too??!!

So after that fateful evening in May, I joined Twitter, and started to watch my “Twitterverse” – my small universe of people that I knew on Twitter.

Slowly, as I watched that small group of people that I had met, and knew, I started to see them sending messages to each other, and to their friends… Curious, I started to read the profiles of some of these strangers, and see what their Twitter Streams looked like. Following the links, I slowly started to discover a whole bunch of interesting people, and started “following” them. (And no I wasn’t stalking them!! I was adding them to my list of people who’s Twitter streams I wanted to follow, and see what they were doing or thinking, or talking about).

Gradually I started to amass an ever growing list of people to follow.  It meant I started being privvy to ever more interesting tweets (status updates from people on Twitter), and somehow, I managed to be lucky enough to see the term “Twestival” pop-up in conversations happening in my twitter stream.

Being very much a real-time medium, with real people responding to each other, in real-time, I started to follow more and more of the people talking about the Harvest Twestival (a play on words of the English celebration of Harvest Festival!). Anyone who mentioned it to someone who I wasn’t following, led me to other people talking about the Twestival, and being the eager beaver that I am, I started adding those strangers to my list too…

I thought I should definitely watch this Twitter stream of people who are all in this conversation about this Twitter Event happening in London!!

So one thing led to another, and before I knew it, Twestival.com popped up on my radar, and the guest list was all filled up! Admittedly this was only a few days before the event… but it looked so awesome an event, especially when it was billed as having “the who’s who of the UK Twitter scene” all billed to be in attendance!!

I figured nothing ventured nothing gained, so RSVP’d for the event, in the off chance, that the night before there might be a few dropouts, and I might be able to get added to the waiting list!

Fortunately for me, the day of the event, I got Tweeted from one of the organisers, and got told that I was on the guest list, and checking the Twestival website, I scanned through the list of attendees, and saw myself @magitam listed, and felt really happy knowing that I’d be rubbing shoulders with some real interesting folks. Now I too, had become one of the “who’s who of the UK Twitter scene”!!!

Excited, and nervous, all at the same time, I couldn’t wait for the evening to come round.. but given that it was the month of Ramadan (muslim holy month of fasting), I thought I should probably go home, break my fast, and eat dinner, before heading to this event – seeing as I hadn’t eaten all day, and didn’t want to suffer as a result!!  Plus it gave me a chance to pick up the car, and if I happened to stay late, I wouldn’t have to spend an hour and a half getting back home in the early hours of the morning :) .

The Twestival itself, kicked off at about 6pm, and apparently the bar was free until 8pm – at which point, the tab laid on behind the bar, by the sponsors had been drunk dry.. or so I was told..

I arrived around 9pm, and by the sounds of it, the Twestival was in full swing!!  Walking down the stairs, at Doon, it was like descending into a noisy, chaotic, trading floor of a stock exchange.. all you could hear was the noise of so many conversations, all happening simultaneously.. Made me think of how the Twestival sounded just like Twitter would sound, if you had audio… All those people talking, and all that noise.. It was all brought to life… exciting and daunting at the same time…

I wasn’t sure what was happening, or what way to turn, so I went through the list of stickers, left on the unattended table at the entrance, found my tag @magitam, and proceeded to the bar, to order up a fruity non-alcoholic beverage of some sort, and try to see if I could spot any familiar or friendly faces…   Admittedly, before coming, I’d gone through the list of attendees on Twestival.com, and randomly selected some interesting sounding names to follow, just to get a flavour for who might be there, and so as to not be going as a complete and total stranger to the people at the event!!

Reaching the bar, nervous that I hadn’t seen anyone I even vaguely recognised, I started to wonder if I had made a really bad move, coming to an event packed with a room full of people who all seemed to know each other, and I felt like I was a total outsider to it all.. Admittedly I’d only been using Twitter for a few months, so perhaps I wasn’t an experienced enough Twitterer to know this “in” crowd.. I started to scan people’s name tags, looking for someone who might be just a little familiar…

Live music at Twestival!Then whilst standing at the bar, I got to meet @alfie, who asked me to order his drink, at the same time as mine (he gave me the cash, he just wanted to save having to wait for the bartender to serve me and then him) …

Eventually, apple juice in hand, and having broken the ice with someone in the room, I started to feel a little more comfortable @ the Twestival…. As luck would have it, they just started to do the Prize Draw for the charity raffle at this point, so I didn’t get a chance to buy any tickets, but got to watch on as the draw for prizes took place. I could only make out some semblance of a mic’d MC, behind the throng of Twitterers, packing the joint, but apparently someone won a Nintendo Wii, whilst others got to win books, and iPod Nano’s amongst other prizes….

'You're No One If You're Not On Twitter',Somewhere behind the crowd, the raffle ended, and a live music performance began by @ihatemornings (aka Ben Walker) performing his YouTube hit ‘You’re No One If You’re Not On Twitter’, the crowd was so noisy and loud, I could barely hear a word; at least until someone grabbed the mic, and asked the audience to shuussshhh! – (does anyone know who that was??). I figured, if I couldn’t hear Ben, or see him, let me at least join in the fun, and started snapping away with the camera, over people’s heads, in the hopes of being able to catch a decent photo of the man behind the sea of Twitterers, sharing his song!

After that awesome live performance, I got a little more comfortable with the vibe in the bar, and started chatting to the folks around me… I met some really interesting folk, and took photos of people as I met them (yep, started thinking ahead, to my blog, and my flickr stream, and at the same time I wanted to capture some great photos to remember the event by!!), so first I met:

@builtbydave

 

David Stone aka @builtbydave who’s name looked vaguely familiar, as I had recently started following him just a few weeks before, having discovered a bunch of Brighton geeks to follow, after the Brighton BarCamp.

@deliciousmedia

 

 

Next was Nathan McDonald aka @deliciousmedia – a new name, and a new face :)

 

 

@flashboy and @adamstrawson

 

I remember next chatting with Adam Strawson (@adamstrawson) who like me, didn’t seem to recognise any familiar faces in the room, but suprisingly, unlike me, he had come all the way from Hastings!! (I hadn’t realised until then, just how far people might have trekked just to be a part of the Twestival!)

[Tom and Adam Pictured above]

Adam then introduced me to the journalist Tom Phillips (@flashboy), a true Metrovian by his own admission, and Chris Applegate (@qwghlm) a Social Media, PR & Marketing guy. @qwghlm

Strangely, by some fluky coincidence, when I got home and started updating my twitter stream, with the string of people I had met at Twestival, I had somehow looked at the profiles for Tom and Chris, before leaving that evening… I guess their online name’s had drawn my attention, and by chance I got to meet them both in person!

[Chris Applegate (@qwghlm) and Nathan pictured]

@matthagger

My next impromptu conversation was with Matt Hagger(@matthagger) a serial entreprener, who is about to move out to San Francisco, thanks to the success of his Startup.

During our conversation, it was inspiring for me to meet someone who was a successful tech entrepreneur, and I’m looking forward to interviewing him, before he shoots off to the US, to learn more about his story, and perhaps pick up a few pointers along the way.

Matt also raised an interesting point, which I had never thought of before.. and that was of what my online handle of magitam said about me, Farhan Rehman?? He was prompting me to explain how magitam related to my real name, and after meeting a few people who had just popped their first name and last names together to create their online identity, for their twitter names, I started to wonder how much easier I could make it for others to remember me, by constantly putting my name out there, at every electronic interaction I have with people, instead of always using an anonymous online handle, to mask my identity??

It certainly got me thinking, and later that evening, I went ahead and registered the url for my full name, to start the process of creating an online presence shaped around the identity of “me”… I’ll write more about branding, and online identity in a future post, but suffice it to say, I agreed with Matt, that remembering magitam and associating that with Farhan Rehman might not necessarily be the best way of informing people of me.. Especially when it came to potential friends, and professional relationships in real life.. Would I want them to call me by my name, or by my online handle?? Still figuring that one out for now…

My next chat for the evening was with Ruben Nyborg(@rubennyborg), brother to Renate Nyborg(@renatenyborg), one of the event organisers. me @magitam and @rubennyborg

I had seen Ruben standing on his own, not talking to too many people, and not being a part of any big crowds, having been acutely aware of the fact that I had only just been in the same position, when I had walked through the door, desperately looking for some familiar faces, earlier in the evening.

So I figured I’d go on over and introduce myself, and make another friend. Turns out, Ruben had only just arrived in London (he had only been here a few days).

He was just moving to London from Norway (it might have been Sweden??), and he was about to start university, as a student of music, if I remember correctly… Apparently music runs throughout his family, and so it was pretty much in his blood, and after working in IT for a few years, he was finally following his passion!

It turns out, Ruben didn’t even know that much about Twitter, but had only just signed up, a few days prior, to come to the event I guess.. Which was great, cos all of a sudden, I didn’t feel like I was a total newbie, or out of my depth at all!!

It also explained why he had been just hanging out, watching everyone, since he was totally new to the city, new to twitter, and all of a sudden was in the midst of it all!! Talk about being initiated into the London Twitter, Tech, and Startup Crowd!!!

Well, I can definitely relate to the challenges of moving to a new city, and having to set up life in a new home, whilst studying.. I guess it’s always nice to have some family close by until you start to get your bearings sorted, and I look forward to introducing Ruben to parts of London, helping him settle in, if there’s any way I can help..

@mcf1986 with @bits500After my chat with Ruben, I made friends with Matthew Ford(@mcf1986) who also introduced me to Ben Tattersall Smith(@bits500). Turns out they had both gone to York University together, and knew one of the organisers of the event, who had also studied with them.. I think it was Ed, someone?? Not sure on that one!! (hopefully someone will correct me, and I can update this accordingly!) Matt had recently been to a Google Event, and had his Google Pass with his name on it, whilst Ben worked to generate content for the New Media for the Sky 1 Channel!! Ironically, I applied to York, back in the day, and had I not chosen Warwick as my first choice, and put down York, I might have ended up there too :)

There were a few faces, at the Twestival, which I did recognise through the course of the evening. @whatleydudeMost noticeably, was James Whatley (@whatleydude). Not least because his blog has a highly memorable photo of him drawn across the top banner, but also because I kept ending up at his blog, through one person or another pointing towards it, so I actually knew a bit about James, and his persona from his blog, and online presence!!

It was a real honour to meet him in person :)

He also, for all intents and purposes, appeared to be the life and soul of the party, when it came to him being on the dance floor, and strutting his stuff!! Just think of the “cool” “hip” dancer, who always goes out on the dance floor first, and stays till the end, and that was Mr Whatley, at the Twestival!! Of course, first place, for getting noticed on the dance floor has to go to the “lady dancing in the box“.

The other recognisable face of the night was Joshua March(@joshuamarch), who organises the London Facebook Developers Garage Events. I recognised him from his Facebook profile picture, having msg’d him a few times. Didn’t get a chance to grab a close up photo of Joshua, but I briefly said hi, before leaving for the night!

Our awesome bartenders in kilts!

 

And the night would not have been complete without our awesome Bartenders in Kilts, that just kept the drinks flowing the whole night long!!



So, thoroughly networked out, I called it a night, with the place starting to empty, and the last remaining handful of people left, I reluctantly withdrew for the evening, and with one last photo, was on my merry way!

My Last Glimpse of The Twestival, as I leftThe Harvest Twestival, on all accounts was a huge roaring success, and I’m sure the organisers appreciated all the tweets praising, and thanking them for a job well done! Now, it just remains to be seen what will be organised for the Christmas Party!!

Already, there’s talk of a Christmas Twestival, so be sure to keep a lookout, in your twitterverse, for mention of the next London based Twitter event! If it was anything like this one, you most definitely will not want want to miss it!!

For the rest of the pics, check out my Twestival flickr stream.

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2 Responses to “Harvest Twestival, re-vamping the Harvest Festival, of old!”

  1. Too kind sir, too kind!

    Great write up too…

    :)

  2. Thanks! Not at all – you really were the life and soul of the party!

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