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The DorobekInsider guide: Experimenting with Twitter — part I

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twitterEarlier, I promised a list of who to follow on Twitter. I’m still working on it, but… here is part one…

You have probably heard about the Web site Twitter, the microblogging site. And there are many explainers out there. One of my favorite — and one of the easiest — comes from the remarkable team at Common Craft, who produce these wonderful “plain English guides” to all sorts of things — mostly technologies… and including Twitter.

Essentially Twitter asks the question: What are you doing now? And people post their answer — in 140 characters or less. Simple as that. The biggest issue with Twitter is building your network. Like many of these information sharing sites, they are only interesting if there is information to share and somebody — and somebody interesting — to share it with.

So this is something akin to a guide to who you can follow that would give you a taste of what Twitter is… and, perhaps, begin to understand it.

Let me put my caveat here at the top: I’m not totally convinced yet. I do find Twitter interesting and valuable in many ways — I have found interesting people via Twitter that I may or may not have ever met before… and I have certainly found stories and information that I probably never would have found before. But there is also a lot of clutter there — people posting about their delayed flight or where they are right now. Some of these posts — including some of my own — leave me wondering: Why would anybody care?

But there is even more here, I think, and this is why I find Twitter particularly interesting… it is a platform to allow people to share information. I posted earlier about the Twitter Vote Report project, where people could feed information using Twitter or text messages, about their experience at the polls on election day. Those tags could then be tracked and monitored — by all of us. Talk about transparency and information sharing. Another powerful example comes from those horrible San Diego fires last year that destroyed scores of homes. People ended up banding together to get information about their neighborhoods using Twitter.

Set the data free… build the platform… and people will use that information in ways that we don’t fully anticipate.

And I’m not the first person to watch Twitter, of course. Harvard Business School Prof. Andrew McAfee — the guy who is credited with inventing the term “enterprise 2.0” — wrote about why Twitter is interesting on his blog recently.

So for a number of reasons, I find Twitter fascinating… but I’m not yet totally convinced. But in the end, these new tools are quite easy to use — and you have to at least experiment with them to understand them. So… perhaps we can learn together.

In the meantime, if you want to follow me…

Written by cdorobek

November 13, 2008 at 7:40 AM

Posted in Web 2.0

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4 Responses

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  1. I’m convinced.

    Twitter gives me more insight to the whole person than other forms of communications among casual business acquaintances in brief enough snippets that I can make time for it. Learning seemingly insignificant bits about them, such as: they’re worried about a sick child, they missed a red eye and are spending the night in an airport, or they’re trying to decide between one gadget and another — things that happen to me too — helps me more easily discover homophillies we share and builds rapport, trust and confidence in further dealings with them.

    The reverse is also true. If I “feel” someone is a jerk on twitter, I assume they’re probably a jerk in real life too and stop following them and avoid them generally.

    Twitter also gives me a quick recap of the breaking news I choose to follow, exactly when I want it, in ways TV and radio no longer do — perfect for my busy life.

    Chary Izquierdo

    November 13, 2008 at 8:34 AM

  2. I agree with everything you said, Chris. I’m not 100% convinced, but I’m definitely learning things I wouldn’t have known otherwise.

    I also agree with the comment from Chary. You and I are a case in point. You were originally “the guy w/the radio show” who I talked to. Via Twitter, though, we’re exchanging info on a less formal basis, giving us the chance to talk more.

    Jeffrey Levy

    November 13, 2008 at 12:44 PM

  3. […] a comment » So a few weeks ago, I offered up the DorobekInsider Guide: Experimenting with Twitter, Part I… and at that time, I promised that I would offer up a list of people worth following. You […]

  4. […] have done a few posts trying to explain what Twitter is… and how Twitter works. (See here… and here…) I also have posted several posts on interesting uses of Twitter. (See the […]

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