Two years ago I hosted Thanksgiving dinner in my shoebox of a house and managed to pull it off without setting anyone on fire. Back then, my experience with social media was limited and my favorite social media tool was Brightkite.
In addition to a free meal, my family also got to experience some of the potential of social media in the form of the Brightkite wall, which was a constant stream of posts and photos from Thanksgiving meals across the country. Amazingly, they sat transfixed as it scrolled across my TV and they got a kick out of seeing a slice of everyone else's holiday.
Last year I wrote up a blog post, Enjoying Thanksgiving with Social Media, that detailed my previous year's experience and it was picked up by Brightkite on their blog: We are thankful for.... They were even kind enough to provide a link to a Brightkite wall with some search terms already selected (Brightkite only). That was back when Brightkite was still enjoying a fair amount of photo postings and had not been thoroughly overrun with spammers.
Mashable, the site for all things social media related, posted an article titled HOW TO: Plan the Perfect Thanksgiving With the Help of Social Media (although the
title tag says "social web"). The article, however, has little to do with social media and instead talks about web sites focused on helping you prepare meals, travel, and generally survive the holiday chaos.
If you prefer the idea of a wall showing all the latest Thanksgiving tweets, many Twitter tools allow you to follow specific terms and hashtags, meaning you can build your own if you already have one of those tools. If you want something a little more interesting, the Brighkite wall still works and allows you to aggregate tweets in addition to posts from Brightkite. TwitterFall is another projection-friendly (or TV-screen-friendly) option for viewing tweets in a cascade down your screen. There will be more noise (spam) on it than two years ago, but it's at least a way to see live posts come through. Sadly, there is no way to aggregate all the photos that make it to Gowalla, the various Twitter image services, Facebook, and so on. But then, it's probably better to spend time with the family anyway.
I'm resisting the urge to turn this into a post about the TSA pat-down policies and the opt-out day that many are calling for on the web that coincides with the start of holiday travel, but if you want to cash in on the chaos via a new Foursquare badge, then you may just need to check in to an airport some time over the next couple days. We'll see if I get it when I do an airport run shortly...