One evening in April whilst cooking dinner, I stumbled upon a conversation going on amongst members of the Architects Twitter League which I just had to join in with. The members of the league were discussing what architects do and how the profession can retain young architects, and they were having the discussion with anyone on twitter using or search for the hashtag #AIAchat.
Over the course of an hour hundreds of architects and non-architects discussed a range of questions posed by the American Institute of Architects twitter account @AIANational. It was fascinating, positive and educational, so to find out a bit more about it, I asked Sybil Barnes, director of social media at the AIA, to give us a run down:
What is #AIAChat?
Sponsored by the American Institute of Architects (@AIANational), AIA Chat is a monthly online discussion that helps architecture professionals connect with each other in real time on Twitter. Finding a community on Twitter can be challenging, but a thriving community of architecture professionals is developing through AIA Chat. Each month AIA Chat participants delve into a specific topic, learning from each other and discussing key issues affecting the architecture profession. Participants gain access to new insights and opinions.
Why do we host it?
AIA Chat started in April during National Architecture Weekas a way to include the AIA’s Twitter followers in the week’s activities (the hub of activity centered on the AIA’s Architecture Week 2010 Facebook page). Based on the positive feedback received from the initial chat, AIA Chat was launched as a monthly chat to advance online conversation about the profession.
When is it?
AIA Chat takes place the first Wednesday of each month at 2-3 p.m. EST. The next chat is set for Wednesday, June 2. For UK readers this is 7-8 p.m. now we are in British Summer Time, and its 11am-12noon PST if you’re in LA.
How do we host it?
Anyone can follow and join in AIA Chat, using their own Twitter account. Participants sign into their Twitter account or Twitter chat tool and follow #aiachat, a unique hashtag for participants to add to their tweets. This hashtag marks the tweets as belonging to the chat so that all chat participants can easily follow the conversation. Such apps as TweetChat, TweetGrid, and Twitter Search help to easily follow the conversation, too.
AIA National moderates the chats and begins each chat with participants introducing themselves and then AIA National poses questions or topics for participants to discuss. Typically 10-15 minutes is allotted for each question. Topics cover a range of issues for focusing on the practice of architecture, from sustainable design, retention of young architects, and disaster recovery to licensure, BIM and emerging technologies, design projects, and much more. Participants may also suggest discussion topics by sending a direct message to @AIANational on Twitter or an e-mail to Sybil.
Although participants may initially find it a bit challenging to make their point in 140 characters, especially when those characters include the #aiachat hashtag, eventually a conversation begins to flow-just as if you were talking to someone in person.
Thanks Sybil, I enjoy hearing what US architects are talking about and picking up ideas from participants across the globe. I’m looking forward to the next #AIAChat on 2nd June.
So what do you think? Are you going to join in, and do you have an idea for something similar?