Sunday, July 3, 2011

Twitter user meetups in Havana and Holguín -- non events?

A few weeks ago, Leunam Rodriguez put out a call for a meetup of Cuban Twitter users. As shown here, the word was spread using Twitter, and there were over 2,000 tweets on the day of the meetup. If you are interested in more detail, search for #twitthab on Twitter.

In spite of the publicity, Reuters reported that only about 50 people attended the meeting in Havana.

The fact that, according to Reuters, Rodriguez is a reporter at the state-run Radio Cubana, suggests a pro-government slant, but calls for widespread Internet access reportedly met with unanimous applause. The sparse attendance might also have been explained by the high cost of posting a tweet -- perhaps there are not many Twitter users in Havana.

Dissident blogger Yoani Sánchez evidently arrived early and saw computers, but no people, and she later tweeted that what she found at the pavilion felt more like a prison than the free environment of Twitter. I guess she wasn't impressed :-).

As shown here, there was a similar meeting in Holguín, and you can see photos of the Havana meetup here.

Were you at either meetup? Were these non-events?


  1. Larry,

    Yoani was not at Twitthab. She just retweeted Orlando Luis Pardo's message. Orlando was at Pabellon Cuba meeting. Another meeting took place at the site originally scheduled: 23 y 12

    "The sparse attendance might also have been explained by the high cost of posting a tweet -- perhaps there are not many Twitter users in Havana." That's an absurd, the 80% of Cuban tweets come from PCs... They tweet from PC, not from cellphones

  2. Ernesto,

    > retweeted Orlando Luis Pardo's

    Thanks for the correction -- looking back, the tweet reads:

    "RT @maritovoz Lo que me encontre en Pabellon #cuba de #Twitthab tiene poco que ver con el ambiente libre de Twitter y si con el carcelario"

    I did not notice the "RT" at the start because I am used to the looking for the Twitter "retweet" symbol.

    > They tweet from PC, not from cellphones

    I agree that tweeting from a PC is cheaper than from a cell phone, but Web access is expensive too.

    Shifting the subject a bit -- Is the 80% just your best guess based on personal experience? Have there been any studies of Cuban Twitter use?

    Were you at the meetup in Havana? What can you tell us about the other meeting? Was it better attended?

  3. If you want to know about the event you must follow the #twitthab hashtag.

    I'm in Barcelona, thanks God, but I was blogging about this subject last week. The original meeting was to be in 23 and 12. Independent bloggers said they would participate. State Security was concerned and tried to handle the event, invented another site in Pabellón Cuba. Many of the tweeters that were behind the original idea preferred to keep the meeting place originally agreed, others, mostly "tuiteros oficialistas", were at Pabellon Cuba. Curiously, a few tuiteros from independent platform "Voces cubanas" preferred to go to Pabellon Cuba, to confront "the enemy". At the end, it seems, respect prevailed. But nor Yoani nor Claudia or Miriam, well known bloggers ant tuiteras, assisted.

    Web access is not expensive for to Cuban officials or persons associated with the official journalism, which are well over 70 percent of the tweeters from Cuba. They tweet from PCs, as you can verify on these accounts.

    All the information I mention is based on empirical practice, many hours I spend blogging and tweeting about Cuban issues

    If you want to know some stats about Cuba and Twitter you can ask Claire Williams, in Twitter. I met her in Chile, a few months ago.


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