A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of being the curator of the @peopleofhalifax Twitter account. For those of you who aren’t familiar, it’s a really interesting initiative that’s been used by other platforms and in other cities that allows individual users to curate an account in order to create a more rounded experience for the community. As an enormous fan of community based, collaborative projects, I’m in love with this idea. So I decided that I’d like to curate the account. In fact, there were 3 reasons that I decided to curate the account. First, I love Twitter. It’s my favourite thing to play around with. Second, I love the concept (as stated) and really wanted to immerse myself in it. Finally, I thought it would be good for business.

Now, I wasn’t looking to using it in some sort of nefarious plot to trick people into coming on board with what OneRedCat had to offer but rather it provided me an opportunity to get to know more people and show more people who I was and what I had to offer. I decided that I really wanted to plan out my week and look at specific ideas and concepts over the course of the week. I wanted to create interesting conversations that could be used to launch ideas. Basically, all I ever want to do is make something cool. For me, every interaction is an opportunity to build something extraordinary. It’s how I love my life every day and I wanted to continue that with my People of Halifax experience. So naturally I perfectly planned it so that my week as curator would be an insanely busy week, right before my wife left for Europe for 10 days. Needless to say, the planning went out the window and I just went with it.

It started out good. I asked some questions. I got some answers. I guided some of the conversations where I wanted them to go and we were off. But I started to realize that I was ignoring everything I teach people about Twitter. I wasn’t listening enough. My desire to start conversations overwhelmed my desire to join them and add to them. As a result, the conversations that I began stagnated quickly and never went anywhere. But the simple conversations that were unplanned and stemmed simply from listening to what people said, asking questions and sharing became overpowering. And then I made a request.

I love music. But I’m not the most discerning listener and over the years I’ve often failed to open my mind to new music. While I have a lot of music and listen to a lot of music, I’ve listened to everything I own and was interested in finding a few more things to listen to. So I posted a tweet where I asked people what their favourite album was. I asked them to tag it with the hashtag #TeachOneRedCatMusic and told them that if they posted something, I’d listen to it. I expected 10…maybe 20 albums.

The current list stands at 78 albums and every few days the conversation pops up again and a few ore albums get added to the list. I assumed I’d be able to complete my listening in a few weeks, maybe even by the time my wife returned from Europe. We’re 1 month in and I’m on album 27…or 28. I’m definitely in the late 20’s. It’s been interesting. In general, I think that most of the “people of Halifax” have some pretty damned fine taste in music. Most.

More important than this list of albums and what it means to my spare time is what the entire concept means as it pertains to social media. Asking people to share their loves and their passions will result in incredible gains. Asking people what they think about what you want to talk about will result in a few moderately interesting conversations.

I made a lot of friends through this process. These are people whose opinions I value greatly and whose interests and ideas resonate with me, even when I don’t share their particular values or perspectives. And that, for me, is what the @peopleofhalifax account is all about. It’s about connecting with the voices that come together to make Halifax what it is. And not all of that is good.

I love Halifax. But segments of its people and its ideas and its processes drive me bonkers. I love that we’re a small city but I also think that sometimes we need to think much bigger. I love the fact that everybody seems to know everybody but I hate that nepotism runs rampant. I think we are a dichotomous city with a split personality, capable of a great many wonderful and terrible things. I believe that projects like the @peopleofhalifax account allow us to make connections and bridge some of our gaps in thinking and in practice and I hope against hope that I was able to make some sort of positive impact as the temporary curator of this wonderful project.

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