Photo of the meetup location (Coco Veranda) from a review by Lanka Reviewed
Sri Lanka is having its first Twitter Meetup today (the 26th) at Coco Veranda on Ward Place at 5 o’clock. Sri Lanka is full of firsts which are insipid (SPEED’s first bottled water ‘for kids’, for example) but this one is somewhat worthwhile. Twitter is a online short messaging service which I now use as my primary news source. I follow a few people that I consider interesting and they post interesting news links and ideas. This gives me a diversity and specificity of fodder, and I also share some. Twitter also has other uses, one of which is starting, promoting and executing a meetup.
The Twitter scene in Sri Lanka, as I know it, started slowly and now has thousands of members. I checked www.tweepz.com and they had the following numbers, though these are non-comprehensive and out of date.
Following is an email interview with one of the organizers, @udaraumd.
Where did the idea start?
It was just amazing to watch how the idea for TweetupSL spread like wildfire on Twitter. This tweet (Oh jeez .. Just a casual meeting planned with @udaraumd had grown into a big ‘Tweet Event’ taking place for the 1st time? ..) by @Moshanthi describes the rate at which the idea spread across Twitter, to all Sri Lankan tweeps. To get 30 people to participate in an event, within a matter of couple of hours (and grow it to 70 within couple of days) is just amazing to think about, if you are an event organizer.
In the begining it was @Udaramaud, @Moshanthi and @Rebelinpurple. In few minutes @Mack005 and @Amisampath joined in. Within half and hour or so, we had about 20 people confirmed participants, venue fixed to @CocoVeranda, and we were discussing radio sponsorship and Wifi broadband facility from Dialog. It all happened so rapidly, which is so typical about how Twitter behaves as a social communication tool
How are you spreading the word?
The word spread across all alone with Twitter itself. We didn’t advertised it or anything, but it spread like a virus from one Tweep to many, and within few days we reached 50 confirmed participants and 20 odd ‘may be’ attendees. This again, proves the power of Twitter. In a country where some political parties hold their annual general convention in public library auditorium (with all publicity they do on radio, tv, posters, newspapers etc), it is a great achievement to find 50 odd confirmed participants for this type of an event, by only using Twitter.
How many sri lankans are on twitter?
There are no published data found to say an exact figure of number of users registered. Worldwide, there are 190 million users (as of July 2010) and it is ranked the #11 mostly visited site worldwide, and #12 mostly visited site in Sri Lanka.
How would you explain twitter to a newbie?
Twitter is like SMS in public. You send a short message of 140 characters, and it reaches any number of people who are willing to read your short message. Then can instantly reply to you, or re-tweet (forward it). This instant ability to reply and forward, makes Twitter an amazing tool for communication and exchanging raw ideas.
How did you choose Coco Veranda?
Coco Veranda (@CocoVeranda) used to be an active participant of Sri Lankan Twitter community for a long time. They are one of the few local businesses who used Twitter in a sensible way to engage with customers, and had been a part of most Twitter conversations all the time. During the initial discussions, someone from the community itself, suggested Coco as a potential venue. When contacted through a direct message, Coco’s boss Mr. Sarath Sathiamoorthy welcomed the idea warmly. Sarath himself is a fan of Twitter, and that helped a lot for us to discuss the event and arrange everything. Had we chose a different venue, which is run by an owner who doesn’t understand Twitter; the things would have been much difficult for us. In summary, the event is going to be mutually beneficial for both the community and Coco Veranda in achieving their goals.