It was a Twitterific night atop the Canary Hotel on Friday, September 11, when users of Twitter, the social networking service that is taking over smart phones and computers, gathered at the rooftop lounge to raise money for a good cause, while at the same time meeting and socializing with e-followers and online friends in the flesh.
The second ever Twestival (“Twitter” + “festival”) to hit Santa Barbara and by far the most successful, the event was one of more than 200 similar events taking place around the world this past weekend. Each Twestival was designed as a fundraiser for a charity local to each community. In Santa Barbara, that charity was Direct Relief International, a non-profit dedicated to humanitarian medical aid through partnerships around the world.
With Santa Barbara-based companies Citrix Online and Make It Work fronting the cash for the event, 100 percent of the event’s proceeds-a total of more than $10,000-went to Direct Relief. Bright blue Twittertinis were available behind the full bar, while a silent auction had numerous prizes up for bid. Massages and a photo booth were available to attendees for free, though with donations of any amount going straight to DRI.
Created in 2006, Twitter is an ever growing phenomenon in which users can post updates to their web page using 140 characters or less. Subscribers, or followers, can see the update -anything from news to links to jokes to useless babble-made to a person’s profile.
Friday’s event featured a flat-screen television showing a run-down of “tweeters” posting messages about the gathering. While 150 tickets were originally set aside by organizers for pre-sale, more tickets were made available and 194 of the 200 total were sold before the event even began.
“Twestival far surpassed our expectations, both as a benefit for Direct Relief and as a public, in-person demonstration of the power of Twitter to bring people together,” said Jim Prosser, a spokesperson for Direct Relief and a tweeter himself. “The credit really lies with the volunteer Twitter users who made everything happen. They deserve far more than 140 characters of thanks for all the work they put in. Adjusted for the size of each area’s population base, I’m fairly confident that Santa Barbara had the best turnout of any Twestival in California.”