Saturday night, the President of the World was in Boca Raton to give a speech on climate change at the Mizner Park Amphitheater. Crowds lined up to buy tickets to listen to Al Gore speak or to protest, boo and hiss from outside during the event.
I'll be right up front and tell you that I'm not much of a global warming guy. What interested me about Al Gore coming to town was the huge amount of buzz that accompanied the event, both before and especially after.
For the couple of days leading up to Saturday night, my local Twitter stream was filled with announcements from both sides of the climate aisle. Everyone seemed pretty excited about the President of the World (this is how he was introduced, apparently) being in Boca.
@WPTV announced that they would be there, live, to cover the event.
My buddy @allisonnazarian made sure to tweet a couple of times that she'd have to change her plans because of Al Gore. Whatever that means.
Meanwhile, the protesters were organizing as @FloridaJayhawk and others started telling each other to be there, or be square (paraphrasing, of course).
Over on Facebook, it was not much different.
During the event, I noticed something else. I had my iPhone with me and had kept a trend search open so I could easily follow as the night progressed, and what I saw was pretty amazing. It speaks of how connected our world is today, to say the least.
As the night progressed and I checked in every so often, I saw that, again, both sides of the aisle were very active on the Twitter stream. The protesters outside Mizner Park had a dedicated group of tweeters keeping the world updated, including some photos.
Those inside the Park were a little more subdued, probably because they were listening to a speech, but their comrades who hadn't been able to secure tickets (turns out there were only about 800 even though they had anticipated 3,000) were talking of organizing a counter protest. It didn't really materialize, probably because they were coming in too late in the game, but they were quite active about it.
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In all, there must have been two or even three hundred tweets between the two sides and a lot of back-and-forth. Amazingly, the two sides don't seem to have met which led to no confrontations or chaos anywhere and appeared to be almost oblivious to one another.
By the time Gore was done and leaving, I almost expected avatars to start sporting new colors or badges (ala the Green Iran) for the event. It was getting that thick. The tweeters were all dedicated updaters, with maybe 20 to 25 of them actively posting.
It's great to see how our new always-on and instant streaming technology is working to connect people around the world. Many of those tweeting about the event were not in Florida, of course, and they might have numbered in the thousands. The people on the ground, right here in Boca Raton, though, were the ones keeping them up-to-date with the news.
That, folks, is amazing. And it's all come about in only the past five years or so. Ev and Biz from Twitter, should really thank Al Gore for inventing the internet so their platform could run on it!