The sun came out during Heather Gold’s ebullient Seattle “debut” on the shores of Lake Washington, and so did the warm-felt participation of those in attendance at the sold-out WordCamp Seattle WordPress convocation at the University of Washington. Heather’s unique brand of interactive, interpersonal audience engagement, known as “Tummeling,” was on display during her “standing room only” session. Buoyed by her narrative, her humor and her stimulating conversation, Ms. Gold’s audience was, at once, engaged and entertained by the colllaborative conversation. Heather wouldn’t have it any other way.
Ms. Gold, who is part interlocutor, part sociologist, part comedienne (or “comic” in today’s parlance), and full-fledged new media actor who personifies “geek as chic”, embodies the role of presenter, promoter and explainer-in-chief of “Tummeling.” The concept is to facilitate community interaction, to foster intra-session relationships. So what is Tummeling exactly? Heather explained it in both old word terms and hypermodern, Internet context.
Tummeling is the art of interactive participation (the word stems from a yiddish term that applies to the social tradition of the “Catskills’ resorts” as epitomized in films like “Dirty Dancing.”) In cultural lore, tummeling describes the art of getting people at a wedding to dance, which, in some cases, led to family matchmaking of the highest order. With Heather’s skill in drawing out her audience to share something essential about themselves and their cause celeb, “tummeling” becomes the conversant art of productive engagement at a group level.
As an artist, Gold, herself, occupies an emerging new media space in an art form that is being reinvented in the digital era of online social interaction. There is Blogging. There is Twitter. And then there is Heather Gold. To Heather, “Tummeling” in the Internet age is a higher order of social interaction than is currently available online.
“I can’t stand Facebook,” she intones. “There are dozens of reasons I could give you why Facebook does not begin to interact with or represent real relationships with people. For one thing the people are not there. The connection is based on a keyword, on a single subject or “Like” button, not on the real relationship or the actual person.”
Gold is a champion of emerging media platforms like HashGang that build on the shoulders of Facebook, rendering true images of the persons in the dialogue, meaning the face of the people you are interacting with.
“Part of tummeling is just serving the question,” Gold explains. “The art of engagement is focusing on what is the current problem and then letting it flow.”
It starts with “the desire to engage,” she says. “The key is finding where the divergent interests of a group actually intersect. While there is a great deal of data online, Tummeling looks to the “human” aspect of social media not what our data tracks say we are, but who we ourselves say we are. Like Woody Allen once alluded to, Gold reinforces, “It has everything to do with showing up, checking in and being present.”
While in Seattle, Gold also conducted a special private workshop session. Now that she has made the scene, we can only hope she will become a Puget Sound regular and Tummel with more of us. [24×7]