Cars, Giving, Salt Mines, and Space Suits: Four #140conf Moments You May Have Missed

Over the past year the #140conf has traveled all over the world exploring the state of now. Speakers from all walks of life have shared stories of how real time web is changing their lives and businesses. Recently the #140conf took place in two very unusual locations, Detroit and Hutchinson, Kansas. These two conferences were unlike anything the #140conf had ever seen. While each city was different, the people there showed us the power these tools have to connect, disrupt and create serendipity.

The #140conf Detroit began with a day of giving. It was a chance for speakers to help local non-profits better understand the opportunities of the real time web. Co-hosted by Chris Barger of General Motors at the companies headquarters, the small conference room was electric with conversation, ideas and most importantly, hope. The highlight of the day was when one non-profit employee exclaimed that he had to rush home because he had gotten 5 new ideas and wanted to get working on them right away.

That energy carried over to the next day. The conference took place in the absolutely gorgeous Filmore Detriot theater. We got to see how special Detroit is and what people like Jeremiah Staes are doing to change its image. You got the sense that the people of Detroit knew this was their time to shine. They listened on the edges of their seats and exchanged ideas about how to make real lasting change. Detroit is a beautiful city that has fallen on some tough times. Seeing the energy in that room was inspiring and you just knew that something amazing was happening.

After Detroit it was off to Hutchinson, Kansas for #140conf Small Town. Here, too, there was a buzz in the air. One of excitement and exploration. For many in small town America the term ”social media” means nothing. The #140conf was an opportunity for them to learn about the real time web and experience it first hand. They listened to stories of how farmers and friends were using it to connect small town America to the rest of the world, like Kevin Honeycutt who is exploring the role of educators in the real time web. By the end of the day, they were wide eyed with excitement about the possibilities of this new medium and ready to jump in head first.

Hutchinson was the perfect place for this small town event. It’s filled with warm, welcoming people and unexpected surprises. Halloween night we all gathered in costume at the local salt mine. We traveled 650 feet underground into the tunnels that run under the city and got to experience life as an ant. After the conference there was a party at the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center. We got to see space suits and space ships that actually went into space. Who could have imagined that this small town in the middle of America could hold such wonders.

Both Detroit and Hutchinson showed us one thing: We have have not even began to understand the impact and potential of the real time web to change the world we live in. Check out all the videos from Detroit and Small Town at http://bit.ly/SmallTownVids. Next year holds even more surprises in store as the #140conf continues to explore the ever changing state of now.

P.S. At the beginning of the year I set out, on a journey, to share my families incredible story with the world. #140conf has given me an opportunity to do that with so many wonderful people. I’m working on a documentary film which will bring our story to even more people. We are running out of time with our kickstarter project to raise the money we need to start shooting. If you have been touched by my words at a #140conf please consider helping us out by giving to the project or helping spread the word. http://kck.st/dlC3wK

A big thank you to the #140conf community for their support and to Jeff Pulver for allowing my voice to be heard. Remember the opportunity you have, and go make something happen.

#140conf LA Recap: Lots of Awesomeness, But Different Than Boston.

Last week I attended the #140conf in LA. This event was similar to the Boston event but also different.

One thing I loved about the LA conference was the diversity of speakers. Being LA, there were a number of high profile speakers, including Greg Grunberg from the TV show Heroes, recording artist Michelle Branch and comedian Kevin Pollack, to name a few. Then you had the somewhat typical, but always insightful social media crowd talking about using these tools for business. Then there were the surprises like a wine grower and some famers talking about how they were using technology to connect with their consumers. From celebrities to farmers, it was interesting to see how these distinct groups are using social media to connect with people.

I would say the biggest difference was that LA didn’t feel as close knit as Boston. I felt like not as many of the speakers hung around after their talks. I understand it’s two very long days, but it would have been great to connect with more people. Maybe it’s because I’m from out of town, but it seemed harder to meet people. That’s not to say I didn’t meet some really interesting people. I had several great conversations with people from all over.

Video From the Conference

There is a ton of video from this two day conference. I think it is all being upload and can be watched on the 140conf blip.tv channel. Here are some of my favorite talks.

Andy Grammer (The highlight of the conference for me)

Farming, Cattle ranching and the real time web

Social media for social good.

#Squish, a new way to share love on and offline.

Incase you missed it, this is my talk.

#140conf Detroit

Up next is the #140 conference in Detroit. This 140 conference will be a little different. It will be about how to use the real time web to rebuild a city. On the 19th there is going to be a day of giving where we will be working with local non-profits to help them get a better grasp on this social media stuff. I’m really looking forward to helping out and to another wonderful #140 conference.

Becoming One Family Video: An Emotional Interview With My Sister and Adoptive Mother

In August (I say May in the video but it was really August) my older sister Eva came to visit. I sat down with her and my adoptive mother Margaret to talk about how we became one family. It was a really powerful and emotional conversation. They talk very openly about their feelings and what it was like getting to know each other.

This was the first interview we did for the documentary film I’m working on. If you enjoyed this video check out our project page on kickstarter.

Watch me speak at#140conf LA

Just a reminder that on October 5th at 3:40pm I will be speaking at the #140 Character Conference in LA. I’l be sharing our story and talking about the documentary film. The event will be broadcast live you so you can watch me and all the other great speakers.

Getting Ready for #140conf LA

Chamillionaire at TC Disrupt

It’s been very busy around here lately. Two weeks ago I spoke at the #140conf in Boston which was a lot of fun. That same day we launched our film project on kickstarter. There has also been a lot going on behind the scenes as we prepare for the next event, #140conf LA.

Sunday I’m back on the road again to spend a week in LA. Monday and Tuesday is the #140conf LA, at The Music Box, where I will be speaking again. I’ll stay in LA for the rest of week so John and I can have some face time to work together.

I’m very excited for the LA conference. I have a feeling there will be a bigger audience than Boston, which is exciting. Also, there will be a couple of well known celebrities, such as Nick Cannon, Michelle Branch, Kevin Pollak and Chamillionaire. I can’t wait to hear their thoughts about technology and how they are using it.

One person I am really interested in seeing is rapper/entertainer Chamillionaire. I have a couple of his songs and I’ve seen videos of him speaking at Stanford and other tech conferences. He recently spoke at TechCrunch Disrupt about what a rapper is doing at tech events. The video is below. I’ll be speaking after him so maybe we will get a chance to chat.

He mentioned that he uses google alerts so posts might show up on his feed. It’s funny how technology makes us so close. I look forward to meeting him and everyone else at the conference. Boston was great and I have a feeling LA will be just as good.

Speaking at #140conf Boston: Thank You Everyone for Your Support!

Image by Steve Garfield

On Tuesday I spoke at the #140conf in Boston. It was an amazing event. I shared my family’s story about how we were separated during El Salvador’s civil war and our journey to reunite. I also talked about how we are using social media and the web to bring our story to more people. I hope to have a video of it for those of you who weren’t able to attend.

The response and feedback from the talk was overwhelming at first. It’s always been our dream to share this story with the world and getting such a strong reaction was so encouraging. Thank you to everyone who came up after to talk with me. It was great meeting all of you and your kindness means the world to us.

Check out the Identifying Nelson page to learn more about the film and how we are using social media. You can also pre-order the DVD on kickstarter.

Here are some of the talks I enjoyed the most.

The Rock Star Panel

It was every interesting to hear this group. I drew a lot of parallels between what we are doing and what they are doing. In some ways we both entertain people. I’m not sure that’s the best way to describe what our family’s story is about, but they are similar.

The most interesting thought was by Ted Cohen (@spinaltap) who said something to the effect of “I tell the artist that it’s not just about one spike in attention and that you have to manage it and keep it going.” This is so true. You can’t just get a little attention and call it a day. You need to build on it and keep it rolling!

Crowd Sourcing Cancer

This was another emotionally charged talk. Alicia C. Staley (@stales) had just lost two friends to cancer and was understandably broken up. I’m so glad that she decided to talk and share her story.

What was interesting to me is that she is in a similar and yet different position as me. We are both trying to share our stories and connect with people. The difference is that there are many other people who related to her experiences. The challenge for me has always been that there are only a handful of people who have experienced what I have. I don’t have that community to turn to, so I have to find people who connect with the story in different ways.

Look for Work

I thought Chris Brogan‘s (@chrisbrogan) most profound thought had nothing to do with social media. He said “Look for work, not jobs.” I think he nailed it with that statement. This puts the responsibility back on you. You have to go out there and look for meaningful ways to provide value. We can no longer expect someone to tell us what to do.

What Were Your Favorite Talks?

AJ Leon (@ajleon) wrote up his favorites in a post Humanity, Serendipty. What were yours?

Why I Want to Speak at #140conf and How You Can Help

About #140conf

The other week I went out to the #140conf Boston TweetUp. For those of you not in the know, a TweetUp is a networking event for people on Twitter. This event was all about the #140 Character Conference taking place September 14th in Boston. Being a pretty heavy twitter user, I had heard about #140conf before but I wasn’t exactly sure what it was about. Thankfully, the founder of #140conf Jeff Pulver was there to enlighten us.

He described it as a conference about the real time web, but also a platform for people doing interesting things to shine. Jeff tries to get celebrities and other big names to speak at the conferences to build an audience, then opens it up to lesser known people to speak. There are individual talks which last no more than 10 minutes and group talks that are no more than 20 minutes. The idea is to have lots of different people present a wide range of ideas.

My Pitch

Of course this sounded like a great opportunity for me to talk about the documentary project I am working on. I promptly wrote up a proposal to speak. Below is the proposal I submitted. Let me know what you think.

I would like talk about my family’s incredible story and how the real time web is helping us share our story.

This past December I sat down with my family in Central America to interview them about the past 12 years since we were reunited. We used ustream to broadcast the event to our friends and family. It was an interesting experience for some family members who had never heard or seen my father speak about what happened during the war.

From that first interview I started doing more interviews with other family members about different aspects of the story. My goal is not only to share our story with the world, but to make a documentary from it.

The internet has always played a big role in my life and in reconnecting with my birth family. In 1997 our home number was found by doing an internet search. Over the past 12 years we’ve used AIM, Skype, Facebook and many other programs to keep in touch.

I’m fascinated with the power of the web to connect people and share information. The #140conf seems like it is a celebration of this idea. It would be an honor to be able to share our story with a group of like minded people.

How You Can Help

Jeff was big on saying he wants people to tell him who should be speaking at the confrence. If you think I would make a good speaker at #140conf and you are on Twitter you can drop Jeff(@jeffpulver) a line. Please don’t spam him but you could say something as simple as:

I would like to hear @dewittn speak about #anasmiracle at #140conf

Every little bit helps!

Save the Date, June 29th 7pm EST: Discussion on Race and Adoption

A quick update today about our next event.

On Tuesday June 29th, Ana’s Miracle will be hosting a discussion on our Facebook Fan Page about interracial adoption and cultural expectations. We will be talking about growing up in a household of mixed cultures and tackling issues of identity. Joining us will be special guest Kevin Hofmann, author of Growing Up Black in White.

For more details and to RSVP go the our Facebook event or, in case you’re not on Facebook, our Eventbrite event.