Social media fans get face to face

00:42, Jan 09 2014
SeniorNet Nelson
SWITCHED ON: Social media fans from SeniorNet Nelson at the first Gigatown tweetup. From left Mrs Margaret Bailey, Mrs Helen Gowland and Ms Elizabeth McKendry

A group of social media fans met face-to-face in Nelson last night after communicating only over the internet for the past few months.

They are championing for gigabit internet speeds in Nelson and have been using social media to try to win a competition that will bring super fast speed internet .

NMIT information technology tutor Dr Clare Atkins said the meeting was a "tweet up" organised through social media network Twitter to bring supporters of the competition together - many for the first time.

The competition, run by ultrafast broadband installer Chorus, relies on locals to sign up and promote their city on Facebook and Twitter by using hashtag #gigatownnsn or #gigatownnelson. Chorus will award one New Zealand place the super speedy internet connection and $200,000 to help take advantage of the winning prize. Currently Nelson is 13th in the competition.

About 20 people were at the meeting at the Free House, and were not what organiser Matt Dodd considered your average technophiles - "many people think things like this are pimply-faced geek fests".

The meeting featured seniors and business professionals, many with smartphones and iPads to take notes and show each other photos.


Ms Elizabeth McKendry was at the meeting with two friends, all from SeniorNet Nelson - a community training network that supports and motivates people over 50 to use technology.

The three relied on the internet in their everyday lives for communicating with loved ones.

"We see the benefit of Nelson winning this and want to help make it happen here. This is important so you don't get static on Skype, it will be better for downloading a whole lesson on a technological matter. It will make life easier and we could be at the forefront of new technology," Ms McKendry said.

Through this campaign the seniors were "meeting a lot of switched-on people".

Mr Dodd said if Nelson won this competition it would give a massive boost to industries here, and IT businesses could relocate workers here from Wellington.

The group also used the meeting to discuss strategies to try and win the competition which ends in September, they said they will try and get more Nelsonians to tweet daily to get their numbers higher.

The competition will run until September. People can sign up by visiting and choosing Nelson as their town.