What I Learned While Live-Tweeting A Friend's Funeral

There’s been a lot written about how social-media tools like Twitter and Facebook interfere with our daily lives, prevent us from living in the moment, get in the way of face-to-face interactions, and so on — and all of this is true, to some extent. But I am a firm believer in the idea that there are some big benefits to these tools as well, including the power of serendipity that they can bring to our lives. Another benefit is the ability to bring others into the event we are experiencing, even when they can’t be there in person, and that was something I experienced first-hand this weekend, when I attended the funeral of a close friend and decided to live-tweet the proceedings as a tribute to him.

My decision to do this — which a number of people who follow me on Twitter reacted to with a combination of shock and/or disapproval — came about because of who my friend was: Michael O’Connor Clarke was a veteran of the Canadian and U.S. public-relations industry with a keen interest in social technology, and was a long-time user of Twitter right up until his death a week ago, as a result of esophageal cancer. He was also an early volunteer and tireless supporter of the Mesh conference in Toronto (of which I am a co-founder), and of related social efforts like HoHoTo.

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