Alexia Hudson, reference and instructional librarian at Penn State Abington, participated in the first presidential Tweetup Town Hall meeting in the East Room of the White House on July 6. President Barack Obama responded to questions posed by Twitter users about the economy and jobs while Hudson and other guests tweeted their thoughts in real-time.
Hudson said she still is trying to absorb the whirlwind of events that led her to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Six days earlier, she and an unknown number of other @Whitehouse followers responded to a Tweet asking why they should be invited to the high-profile event. Hudson’s answer: Librarians are champions of equitable access to information and digital literacy yet they are rarely included in political discourse.
On less than 24-hour’s notice, Hudson and 29 others were told to arrive at the White House prepared to Tweet. “I felt like I won the lottery – and I never win anything,” she said.
The group, which she said included only one other academic, bonded as they passed through layers of security. Hudson said she was “awestruck” by the crush of media and the arrival of the President. “It wasn’t until then that reality hit. I thought, ‘I really am sitting in the East Room of the White House,’ ” she said.
After the Tweetup, the group met with Twitter co-founder and town hall moderator Jack Dorsey and U.S. chief technology officer Areesh Chopra. For Hudson, the ensuing discussion on advancing civic education and engagement through technology resonated.
“As a professional, a librarian and a believer in social media, it 100-percent affirmed my personal and professional commitment to embrace,acknowledge, learn and teach new technologies,” Hudson said. “I am proud that Penn State is a part of this initiative. As academics, we must be enablers of digital literacy.”
And the Tweetup has opened two more avenues for Hudson to advance her passion. The event’s organizers told them that they would like to hear more from this first group of @Whitehouse followers. And Hudson said Dorsey wants to explore ways to increase the civic engagement of African-Americans through technology.
As for Hudson’s memories of her time in the spotlight, she can only call them sweet. The librarian brought home a box of M&Ms emblazoned with the presidential seal and snacked on White House chocolate chip cookies, rumored to be the president’s favorite.
To see video associated with the Tweetup Town Hall meeting, visit http://www.youtube.com/user/whitehouse?blend=6&ob=5#p/u/4/5cuboYUaUCU or http://www.youtube.com/user/whitehouse?blend=6&ob=5#p/u/5/Fe-rIymyxys online.