Thursday, September 30, 2010

Alumni network for NITT through Twitter

Came across some interesting twitter chatter relating to having #nittmeet - to have an active alumni network for my alma mater National Institute of Technology, Trichy

This is definitely an excellent idea. Twitter is an awesome communication medium to organically build an amorphous, geographically-spread, community of alumni from any institution.

NITT was started in 1964. That means there must be at least 45 batches of Engineers (and slightly lesser numbers of MBAs, PhDs, post-graduate degree holders, ....) who have passed out from NITT ( & erstwhile RECT ). One the one end of this alumni spectrum are the 'kids' who have just passed out of NITT, and who are to the most part gung-ho about - and aware of - Twitter. On the the other end of the spectrum are people whose most important worries these days are about their grand-kids, and are not likely to bother too much about Twitter.

I passed out from NITT in 1994, and thanks to two yahoo group mailing lists, am in communication with (a) most of the people from my batch, and (b) most of the NITT graduates who are settled in the US. Having another channel of communication and connection, which spreads across batches and locations is definitely a useful thing, in my view. There are some topics that is of interest to everyone in the alumni - irrespective of which batch they are from, and where they are located. Having such a channel would also foster communication among the alumni and strengthen the community.

And yada yada yada :-) OK, in conclusion, I see immense benefits of a communication channel through twitter for NITT alumni. Such a channel could work only if it is very simple, and easy for most to adopt, and with the minimum of rules.

Given all the features Twitter provides, the most easiest way to do this would be through a hash-tag. (The other feature of Twitter that could be used is the User-list functionality, but that is not scalable and can be ignored.)

Here is how I see it working:
  • The NITT alumni who are on Twitter currently start using a common hash-tag for NITT related communication on a regular basis. The hash-tag currently being used is #nittmeet. I would suggest using #nittrichy instead - simply because this is more appropriate for a long-term on-going thing. So current alumni on Twitter will start sending tweets with the hash-tag #nittrichy for any communication that pertains to NIT Trichy (eg: info about the recently conducted TEDxTrichy event.)
  • People can follow the conversation by searching for the #nittrichy hash-tag on Twitter. Link
  • Spread the word about this usage to others in the alumni - through mailing lists, at alumni meetups, etc.
  • Use an additional hash-tag or a modified hash-tag for a specific event. Eg: If, say, alumni of NITT 2009 batch want to 'meetup' over twitter one weekend for a couple of hours, that event can have a slightly different hash-tag. eg: #nitt2009meetup. Or communication around the next TEDxTrichy event could have both #nittrichy and #TEDxTrichy hash-tags.
Those are some of my initial thoughts about how this will work. What do you think?
- Do you think there is benefit in having an alumni network for NITT through Twitter?
- What are your suggestions to make such a network become alive and thrive?
- What do you expect to get from such an alumni channel?
- Any other thoughts and suggestions?

Do answer (some or all of) these questions and more in the comments, and also on twitter with #nittrichy hash-tag. Looking forward to hear from you - the NITT alumni from years I wasn't even born, and from you - the fresh alumni from NITT who still consider Sapphire / Pearl / Topaz / Agate as home rather than as hostels in an erstwhile college. :-)

Let's make this happen!