Tuesday, 24 March 2009

TwitchHitching: can anyone do it?

TwitchHiker has caused a media storm beyond his wildest dreams. His perfect timing has made him a Twitter celebrity. Just as the site broke the mainstream, up he pops up with his quirky and ambitious demonstration of just what the site can do.

I'm very impressed with his go-getter spirit. Plus, he seems like a nice, down-to-earth guy you'd want to have a pint with.

However, I do wonder how representative this is, and how much of his experiment could be replicated by others. Without the media buzz would it have worked? He certainly wouldn't have got the support from Visa, AirNewZealand and the like. So, no, he probably wouldn't have got as far.

Yet Twitchhiker is doing this on a grand scale to make a point and, more importantly, to raise lots of money for charity. Who can knock that?

The average Twitter user may not be able to score a free nights in hostels or their own PR team, but they could certainly harness a lot of goodwill.

I've been really impressed by the Twitter community. People are constantly bigging each other up, helping with problems, passing on links, sharing successes and generally being nice to one another. Where are all the scathingly bitter trolls you usually find on the net?

Right now, Twitter is the easiest place in the world to make contacts and I can certainly see how this would transfer into the real world. I've already corresponded with a worldwide stream of people through the site, many of whom I'd happily take out for a drink if they came to town, or maybe even host in my house.

Note to non-Twitter users: that statement's really not as strange as it sounds. These aren't just randoms strangers offering no more than a user name - most of them have very public internet presence and are highly traceable. You find yourself reading their daily thoughts, through blogs and tweets. You could probably even browse their holiday snaps.

A vast majority of the people I follow on Twitter are travellers. And it's interesting to see how they've all meet up and hung out at big industry events SXSW and ITB in these past weeks.

There are some really interesting characters out there. People like @soultravelers3, a family of globetrotters who are currently nominated for the Lonely Planet microblogger of the year award. When they mentioned coming to Buenos Aires, I didn't hesitate to suggest a meet.

I did jump the gun a bit though. They replied to say they've got another two years of travelling before they arrive here. I guess I won't put the kettle on just yet...

Photo: Guaka on Wiki Commons