Twitter goes mainstream at work

powerI never thought it would happen. It’s too niche, I told myself. But I was wrong. Today, for reasons unknown, Twitter went mainstream at work. When I started I only knew one other person who was on Twitter. She’s the artsy type so that didn’t surprise me. I figured Twitter was mostly for those that enjoyed blogging and not the geeky IT crowd. 

This got me thinking about how the work culture changes when the majority of the company uses Twitter regularly. Here’s what I think:

  1. Employee to employee email is reduced.
  2. Employee to employee instant messaging is reduced.
  3. Those who may be on the outside can suddenly be in the know
  4. The playing field is leveled. Titles don’t mean anything.
  5. Community is fostered.

It will be interesting to see how Twitter changes our culture at work. Maybe today was just an anomaly and it really won’t change much or people will use it for a week and then quit.

I for one hope it continues.

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If you’re not using Twitter, you’re missing out

There, I said it. I use Twitter as an outlet for my thought that aren’t worth blogging. But the reason that keeps me coming back is hearing so many different viewpoints. Of the 316 people I’ve met fewer than 30. Yet that’s what makes Twitter so fun. Some are serious. Some are witty and others are so very random. Many I don’t agree with but some make me think. There are some very smart people on Twitter.

You never know what will come across your Twitter stream. Sometimes it’s a funny thought or a sad experience. When a thought is limited to 140 characters, there’s no fluff. People get right to the point. Few words are wasted.

When I tell my friends about Twitter I hear the same excuses I hear when discussing blogging: Not enough time, nothing to say. Lame.

And if you happen to run a company, you should be tracking what people say about you on Twitter the same you do with blogs. And if you’re really into pleasing your customers, do what John Ballinger does and answer tech support questions using Twitter.

Seriously, if you don’t Twitter, you’re missing out. And if you’re interested you can check out my feed here.

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The world of Twitter

twitter Remember when you tried to explain what email or the web was to your grandparents or maybe even your parents? It wasn’t easy to find the words to describe this new world without using words that would confuse more than teach them.

Back in 1994 I was discussing sports with my brother-in-law. As we finished I asked, “Hey, do you have an email address?” figuring maybe we’d keep in touch as I was planning a move to Seattle. I’ll never forget the look he gave me. It was a look of total confusion mixed with some derision and a little snobbery thrown in for good measure. It was as if I’d crossed the line of manliness transitioning from sports talk to geek speak.

Well, it feels like 1994 all over again when people ask me about Twitter. I’m running into the same looks of confusion and derision. Describing Twitter as “sort of like micro-blogging” carries with it a field full of land mines ready to take off a limb or two. “I don’t blog” or “Blogs are for people who can’t get enough of themselves” are two responses I’ve heard lately.

And that’s the problem. It’s nearly impossible to describe Twitter to someone without making them feel inadequate or making yourself sound self-obsessed. It’s not a product that catches people attention by description only. I’d go so far to say it doesn’t lend itself to demo very well either. Those expecting instant satisfaction will likely go away disappointed.

So going forward I’m not going to attempt to explain Twitter to my friends, coworkers for family. I’ll give them the address and maybe my feed and let them discover it on their own. It really is one of those products that takes some time to discover. For me, it’s worth the time investment. For others, it may not be, and that’s just fine.

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Goodbye Newspapers

As I kid I looked forward to the time between 3 and 4 pm each afternoon when the Standard Examiner paper would land on our porch. The Standard was and still is the local newspaper for Northern Utah including Ogden. If I could beat my dad to the porch, I’d take the paper into our living room and lay it out on the carpet. I’d start with the comics section. Frank and Ernest and Born Loser were my two favorites. I’d move on to the sports section and finish up with the ads. Sunday’s edition was my favorite of the week because it included “The Parade” insert. I always made sure to fold the paper back just right for my dad. Sometimes one of our cats would run across the stretched out paper and wrinkle it.

Even during the years I was a poor college student, I made sure to budget enough money to subscribe to the Salt Lake Tribune. When I moved to Seattle I took the Seattle Times and the Wall Street Journal for a while. But as I began to spend more time on the internet I found unread papers stacking up outside my door. It wasn’t long before I decided to cancel our paper subscriptions. harrytrumandeweywins

That was about eight years ago. On two separate occasions we’ve tried subscribing to only the Sunday edition of the Seattle Times but that was primarily for Kim to peruse the ads. It never lasted more than a few months.

I can’t imagine ever subscribing to another newspaper again. MSNBC, Digg, Fark, Twitter and RSS feeds are now my sources of news for better and for worse. When big news breaks today I’m far more likely to hear about it on Twitter than on CNN or the radio. The thought of waiting for the paper the next morning never crosses my mind anymore. And have you seen the local news lately? It’s so embarrassingly terrible it’s not even worth tuning in for the weather. I now get my weather through a Google Desktop Gadget which sure beats the phoney banter between the weatherman and anchor.

I suspect that one day I’ll receive a lot of my news through my phone. I’m starting to get more of it that way mostly through RSS as the web on my Motorola Q isn’t a great experience. But it’s weird to think that my kids may never know what a newspaper is. I guess they will miss out on some good comics.

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Twitbin for Windows

My new Twitter app of the week is Twitbin. I’ve given up on Tweetr which is still the most elegant Twitter app I’ve tried, but it’s just too flaky to use each day.

So far I’m liking Twitbin quite a bit, especially the space it saves by integrating with Firefox. It does include a small ad at the bottom of the window but it’s not intrusive.

I wonder which browser will be the first to offer native Twitter integration?

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