Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Twitter: Headline News for the Next Generation?

I think you could call me a geek wannabe. I work in technology. I'm married to an Engineer. I live in Silicon Valley, where technology changes constantly, and the your next door neighbor could be the architect of iTunes (true for a close friend) or a senior person at IBM (true for me).

I know I'll never be a programmer - I barely passed CS 106. But I find the continual advancements in technology to be completely fascinating. First there's the "Wow, that's cool!" factor. And then there's the question of how does it impact a person? How does it make someone more productive? Change their lives? Change their thinking?

Twitter has been one of those fascinating revelations for me. At first I thought it was interesting. I can get messages on my phone in a constant stream? Cool. Then, it became annoying. Too many messages to track on the phone, and I'm not that interested in constant texting. At the end of last year I moved to Twhirl to see if my use would change when I had a constant gadget, and suddenly Twitter became an essential application. As of this writing, I'm following about 40 people. I haven't set specific criteria for following, other than being quick to stop following if the noise ratio gets too high. What I've found with the group I'm following is that they have diverse interests, they are dispersed throughout the globe, and they all are quick to share what they know. As a result, I've come to view Twitter as a participation based Headline News.

When I was in college, Headline News was a critical channel. I didn't have time to watch television, and even if I had, I had no interest in watching the local tv affiliates at 11pm every night. But at any time of the day, I could check Headline News and get the latest on critical stories, get updates on other news that I might not have heard on the local channels, and usually find 1-2 off-beat stories that would be good for later discussion. Also, if I missed an important story, I could be confident that it would be repeated later. Twitter is providing the same content. In the last few months, my Twitter friends have discussed politics, Heath Ledger, Britney, Bhutto, Seesmic, iPhones, the Monte Carlo fire....you name it, there is content, and links to follow to drill into more detail. The news isn't precisely personalized, as there are plenty of tweets that I can ignore. But Twitter has become a new way to stay informed, and to share content, that I've found quite valuable.

How does this apply to management? Or HCM? I don't know yet. It could be that Twitter will be more of a social faciliation process. The mash-up between Twitter and GoogleMaps for Super Tuesday is a fascinating way to track a national process. And it shows that there is still a lot of room to explore the use of Twitter. I think encouraging use (and importantly connections!) between team members can make Twitter a resource for better sharing, and overall team productivity. How could you use something like this mash-up to support a distributed team working on a key project? I'd be interested to hear from others who are using Twitter in a business context. Comment below, or follow me: @GretchenA.

No comments: