Last night, The News-Gazette put together its third tweetup at Jupiter's at the Crossing in southwest Champaign.
Typically, when I mention a tweetup to those who don't understand it, they get a panicked, confused look in their eyes. "What do you do there?" they ask. "You meet people from the Internet in person?"
OK, yes, it's a real-life meetup. And yes, people tweet at the tweetup. But it's not a bunch of dorky people hiding behind their computer screens.
These are real-life people who we happen to talk to online using 140 characters or less. But conversing via Twitter (or Google Buzz or Facebook) doesn't hold a candle to the in-person discussions happening last night at the tweetup.
I discovered that one of our followers is hilarious. I laughed the entire time I spoke with her.
Another brought her artwork, which is stunning in real life. Several others kept up with me when talking about news and newspapers, and what the future might hold for the industry I love.
The best thing, though, was connecting with people I don't talk to as regularly on Twitter or didn't recognize at all. To me, that's an indication that the tweetup isn't just something put together by The News-Gazette, and that it doesn't have much to do with us at all.
Last night felt like more of a community event that people attended because they were looking to connect with others using Twitter, living in the same area and sharing similar experiences. In my opinion, that's what a newspaper should do - facilitate community.