I like coffee. I don’t think that’s a big secret. Some people mistakenly believe that I love Starbucks coffee. And that simply is not true. I drink great coffee at a number of different places. In fact, sometimes I wonder if I’m simply addicted to 12 ounce paper cups wrapped in cardboard rings with plastic lids snapped on top.
Some have asked how I can afford Starbucks every day. Well, its pretty simple really. I just drink coffee. I don’t drink coffee flavored milk. Or coffee infused with large amounts of steamed air. I don’t pay for ice to make it cold or drizzles of caramel to make it pretty. I just want coffee. I want it hot. I want it strong. And I want it black. And on a bad day, I’ll get a coffee with a double shot of espresso.
What I do like about Starbucks is its attention to detail when it comes to their clientele. Most people that drink coffee there are connected to the world through their wifi. Not all, of course, And for those people who aren’t, Starbucks offers various newspapers from around the country. And with the app on my phone, I am never without money to purchase what I want. It automatically reloads more money when I get below $10. And every purchase leads to something “free.”
But other places do a better job of connecting back to me. And I like going there as well. My first trip to Lasater’s in Cleveland was recorded on FourSquare, and I immediately got feedback from them to my Twitter account. They were paying attention to what was being said about them. The same was true with BonLife. My first trip there was less than spectacular. Not because the coffee was bad, but because the seating wasn’t comfortable. They quickly responded to my Tweet to let me know it was a work in progress, and they hoped I would try them again. And I have. And its great.
Yesterday, I went to the Topeca coffee shop at the Hyatt in downtown Tulsa. There is one in my hotel here at The Mayo as well. And it came highly recommended as some of the best coffee in the city. I made a point to get to the Hyatt early enough to enjoy some this spectacular coffee before the Magnet Schools of America Conference kicked off. I arrived at 6:10. It doesn’t open until 6:30. So, I sent out this Tweet on FourSquare:
Yes, I sent it out before I had coffee. It was supposed to be a joke about their opening time. So, you can imagine my embarrassment when I got this reply later in the day:
They were paying attention. Social media, and their presence on it, matters to them. The same way it did for Lasater’s and BonLife. I’ve ranted about the poor service at Starbucks and never been noticed. I complained online about the new furniture they put in two years ago. Not a peep.
The same kind of thing is true for educators. If we are online, we have to care about our presence online. We can’t say we’re on Twitter and never send out a Tweet. We can’t say we Tweet if we aren’t sharing and having a conversation. Lurking is ok for a time, but after a bit you have to engage or your presence is meaningless.
This week I’m at the Magnet Schools of America conference in Tulsa, OK. At the beginning of the day yesterday, they had a slide up that gave the organization’s Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn usernames for us to follow. It is a great conference because the people who attend it are passionate about Magnet Schools. And I’m learning a lot. But I’m also frustrated.
There is no wifi available to attendees.
And it isn’t because they didn’t try. I was told the hotel did not have enough access points to handle everyone, so the decision was made not to have any rather than pay for something that wasn’t going to work. I get that, of course. It makes financial sense to me. And we will forego the bigger question of why did you have your conference at a place where teachers cannot connect easily? We’re here. Let’s make the best of it, right?
So I spent the day hunting for outlets to keep my phone charged as it strained to connect online with only one bar showing. And, at some point I sent out the following Tweet to the organization:
I’m still waiting on a response.
I fought this battle with TETC (Tennessee Education Technology Conference) in Nashville years ago. No wifi was available. At a technolog conference. I griped. I complained. I cajoled. Then I got invited to the Mid-South Technology Conference in Memphis. I asked about wifi. I was told they really hadn’t thought about it. I was asked if it was important to me. I explained that a technology conference without easy access to wifi for teachers to connect and share wasn’t worth a six hour drive for me to attend. Wifi has been available for free at the conference every year since. Did I make that impact? Probably not.
The difference was that one conference listened and the other didn’t. And I’ve never been back to TETC.
So, yes, I’m a snob. I’m one of those people who live online. I’m connected 24/7. I respond to most emails within 5 minutes. I’m updating Facebook and Twitter throughout the day. Every day.
Maybe most people are ok with no wifi at an education conference. But not us snobs.
PS: I don’t go to Starbucks because the coffee is better. Its not. I don’t go because its prestigious brand. I could care less. I go because it opens earlier than its competitors and stays open later. And, in that regard, it meets my needs. Because its all about me. And that’s what makes me a snob.