Like many others at the APA conference in Los Angeles I learned a lot. After last year’s APA national conference Kristen Carney @cubitplanning, Brittany Kubinski @b_kubinski and I @evanscowley analyzed the tweets for the conference. Brittany and I decided to do the same this year and compare what trends have continued and what new trends have emerged. The attendees at APA were active tweeting throughout the conference generating 2,962 tweets from 691 people. Most were attending the conference, but several were following along from a distance. Approximately 15 percent of the conference attendees were tweeting! The number of people tweeting at the conference tripled over last year when 203 people sent tweets and the number of tweets more than doubled.
Topics of Conversation
There were several topics that were greatly discussed. Since the conference was in Los Angeles, LA was a common point of conversation. A number of topics that were highly discussed at the 2011 conference continued at the 2012 conference including transportation, public participation, technology and food. A number of topics were new among tweets at the 2012 conference, for example “Big Data” was a hot topic at this year’s conference. While, Delta Urbanism has been a major theme at the APA conference for several years, water and the Netherlands made it into the most tweeted about topics this year. Cycling was in part a hot topic because of the Ciclavia event, which brought out 100,000 cyclists including some of the conference attendees.
|Topic||# of Tweets at 2012 APA Conference||Rank of Topic at 2011 APA Conference|
Thirty percent of the total #APA2012 tweets were retweets (so interesting that someone decided to forward it on)
Below are the most retweeted tweets of the conference (excluding retweets about announcing an event or session). For Twitter newbies, retweeting is like forwarding an email to people you know. RT @evanscowley means that you are forwarding a Tweet from a user, in this example me.
|RT @planetizen: @NelsonNygaard : “we don’t have an obesity epidemic, we have a sedentary lifestyle epidemic” #apa2012|
|RT @jominglau: NYC taking phones out of phone booths, and putting in wifi enabled tvs for engagement with community issues. Awesome #APA2012|
|RT @APA_Planning: Smart growth: On the cusp of the ‘next big thing.’ #APA2012 http://t.co/dWZqRaWr|
|RT @Cbartshire: Climate change is an issue of intergenerational equity. #apa2012|
|RT @ryangravel: In 1950, average size of housing in US was 950 sf; today 2,300 sf #APA2012|
|RT @urbandata: “To make #opendata useful for citizen engagement & planning, need more data literacy” @fkh & @synchronouscity #apa2012 #CPlan MT @npstorey|
|RT @terraplanner: ”America needs to fall back in love w/ planning again!” APA Pres Mitchell Silver AICP @ opening keynote. #APA2012 http://t.co/czVZmAi0|
|RT @transportdata: New study: Vibrant downtowns lead to much less #sprawl – @MinetaTrans http://t.co/08qf9YsG #smartgrowth #apa2012|
|RT @urbandata: What makes a successful #bikeshare station? Analysis @NextAmCity http://t.co/sqycZMmn #CPlan #apa2012 cc @cicLAvia @nycitybikeshare @hubway|
|RT @APA_Planning: Planners, there’s an app for that. Learn more at #APA2012 http://t.co/zMU54Fm1|
|RT @BTArchitects: Don’t make plans, learn also to make history #APA2012 #tacticalurbanism|
|RT @landpolicy: Scenario planning is all the rage #APA2012 Make tools open-source, standardize data, reduce complexity http://t.co/IkOdjKct|
|RT @RethinkTheAuto: Planning cities for cars debunked with wit and clarity in under 4 min. http://t.co/bSIiwW4Z @ITDP_HQ #urbanism #apa2012|
|RT @transportdata: “The future of cities is in open data” -DC Director of Planning Harriet Tregoning @OPinDC at #APA2012 conference. #CPlan MT @civichack|
|RT @APA_Planning: #APA2012 Opening Keynote: Communicating Climate Change. http://t.co/vCNNuaaO|
|RT @civichack: “The future of cities is in open data” -DC Director of Planning Harriet Tregoning @OPinDC at #APA2012 conference. #opendata #CPlan|
|RT @DutchEmbassyDC: Ambassador @RJones_Bos gives closing keynote on Dutch approach to Living w/ Water at #APA2012 conf. http://t.co/t4uilkiR|
|RT @EvansCowley: Thoughts on Community Engagement in Intelligent Cities http://t.co/CZCobsuT #APA2012|
|RT @fkh: Open source planning tools? Yes! Check out @landpolicy’s latest report at #APA2012 or online at http://t.co/t3LSkihP|
|RT @nicadler: Excited 2 share @TheSunsetStrip’s story of hard work/collab over last 5 yrs w/ #apa2012. TY @SoCal78 4 letting me & @AlfLamont tag along|
|RT @nlamontagne: Huge overflow for the tactical urbanism session at #APA2012 Quicker, lighter, cheaper (and more playful) is the #futureofplanning|
|RT @perlmaji: #APA2012 Boston’s bike share also reduced greenhouse gas emissions and increased economic activity.|
|RT @urbandata: Making a game out of town hall meetings: http://t.co/C9NObAR4 #gov20 #CPlan #APA2012 cc @Mind_Mixer MT @Richard_Florida|
|RT @USGBC: #APA2012 fact of the day: 56% of respondents prefer smart growth neighborhoods. http://t.co/Z5L2iSa2|
|RT @APA_Planning: Brand new! Get APA’s new mobile app for iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch. #APA2012 http://t.co/ksrv5DVA|
|RT @elyanaja: Piano in a plaza for anyone to play. What a great public involvement/interaction method! #APA2012 #CityTalk http://t.co/v8wxGbHz|
|RT @fineplanner: #APA2012 tips for 2013: bring in food trucks, provide free wifi, don’t charge for a young planners mixer, try some #unconference sessions|
|RT @urbandata: Opening Access to Scenario Planning Tools: @landpolicy http://t.co/cUuiTks6 #APA2012 #CPlan #gov20|
|RT @FvanHovell: MT @DutchEmbassyDC: Amb @RJones_Bos keynote address “Planning is Key Against Rising Seas” to #APA2012 http://t.co/pfHwYXQM|
|RT @kolisach: #apa2012 San Fran has had a “transit first” policy regarding streets since the 1970s. Prioritizes transit/ped/bike uses over autos.|
|RT @NikolaMiller: “planners need to fall in love with planning again”APA Pres Mitch Silver’s inspirational msg@this morn’s plenary #APA2012|
|RT @planetizen: #Planetizen’s Managing Editor, Jonathan Nettler, blogs about the “winds of change” apparent at #APA2012 @ http://t.co/QiZ1Jdtl|
|RT @transportdata: “The freeway era is absolutely over in the United States” – Jeff Tumlin at #APA2012 cc @Richard_Florida @urbandata MT @adamhyslop #CPlan|
For example “lifestyle epidemic”, “code diet” and “tactical urbanism”. My favorite “Game Changer” became the buzz word heard both on and offline. Other key words that captured attention in tweets such as “verbal vomit team” and “gray tsunami.”
The Meaning of Our Tweets
At my session I described the use of sentiment analysis to help understand the meaning conveyed in a large group of tweets. To learn more about sentiment analysis I have a publicly available article on the topic. And conference attendee Harsh Prakash shared Twitter’s new sentiment analysis tool that lets you see the sentiment in the most recent posts from a hashtag. And I tweeted about USC’s Annenberg Innovation Lab’s use of sentiment analysis in politics.
What are the sentiments that planners are expressing when tweeting about the conference? Are we angry, happy, or something totally different? Twitter’s analysis of the last 40 tweets of the conference showed that we are an overwhelmingly positive bunch, 95% positive tweets. Our analysis of all tweets from the conference expressed ten key sentiments. Our tweets are social, focused on the present, and expressing positive emotions. We are inclusive, talking about space and time, our work, and a sense of achievement. All of these sentiments embrace the essence of planning. This is exactly what one would hope to see at a conference where the use of Twitter is meant to support social interaction between unknown people with shared interests. I was so excited to see the badge additions that had the @ sign so people could add their Twitter handle. This made it so much easier to recognize the people we had been following online. It created the opportunity to network in a new way where there as a topic of common interest.
A total of 691 different planners tweeted during the conference which is a wonderful number of participants, but what was the level of equality in participations. How many people were heavy Tweeters like me and how many were light users? Similar to other research about the use of social media a small number of people dominate the conversations with 3 percent of the users sending out 24 percent of the tweets. BUT, we can also see that we had a wide array of users with many participating one or a few times. For example, 32 percent of the tweets came from the 80 percent of participants who tweeted five or fewer times.
There were clearly key influencers at the conference whose tweets were frequently retweeted. The top 15 influencers at the conference included: @BTArchitects, @theplacematters, @TobiasSKC, @EvansCowley, @nlamontagne, @UrbanPolicyPlnr, @APA_Virginia, @arouault, @cookry, @counti8, @gabrielajuarez, @KSbiral, @LilleyPlanning, @Remon25P, and @rogersna07.
Blogging at the Conference
There was as noticeable uptick in attendees who blogged from the conference. Below are links to a number of the blogs created about sessions at the conference (I may have missed a few). This allowed attendees and followers to get the inside story on what was happening in the many sessions at the conference.
Granicus posted a series of blogs about Citizen Sourcing, participatory planning, community engagement in intelligent cities and other topics. Sasaki also wrote a series of blog posts for the conference, including Innovative Planning: Game-Changing Engagement. I shared a series of blog posts on mobile apps, intelligent cities, and LOLCATS. Josh Stephens shared a blog on SoCal Planning Directors Tell It Like It Is. Sophie O’Neill wrote up the session Rethinking Business as Usual in Planning. Ann Dillemuth wrote Smart Growth: On the Cusp of the ‘Next Big Thing’. Andrew McGee in Go Beyond the Sessions shared what happened outside the convention center. Energov wrote a conference wrapup blog. Jonathan Nettler of Planetizen wrote a conference wrapup titled Winds of Change Blow through APA 2012.
So are there any urban planning trends that surprised–either by being here or by not being here? What were the trends at the APA 2012 conference not captured by Twitter? Let me know in the comments.
My takeaway from the use of Twitter at the conference is that a significant number of people were able to use this medium to share and engage in conversations around planning topics that resonate with them. It provided a platform to engage in social conversations that helped people meet each other both on and off line. What more could we ask for from social media in a conference? I look forward to even more participation at the 2013 conference in Chicago.