Knowledge Management in Technical Support

A blog about knowledge management in Commercial Technical Support - part of tech support for Enterprise and Developer customers at Microsoft.

Why Twitter is dumb and why I'm wrong

Why Twitter is dumb and why I'm wrong

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Twitter is dumb
Twittering as a means to communicate provides very little value to those actually reading the content that someone can twitter. I have difficulty understanding how someone can convey an interesting thing that I'd want to consume via this method. Do I really care that you're on your way to a baseball game, or eating pepperoni pizza? The social web 2.0 craze has created some really odd ways for people to communicate. I fear that this additional information noise and overload will further dilute the value of conversation and interaction.

That said, there are some common arguments I hear about twitter. Here are my responses: I don't think there is anything wrong with having a character limit to get your point across. Twitter is what you'd get if blogging and IM had kids. It's a personal expression thing, combined with short statements. I also think it's interesting that companies are finding unique ways to connect to an audience getting more turned off by traditional media. Zappos is an example of employees connecting with their customers (in theory).

Twitter is also causing a form of character count haiku. By limiting yourself to only 140 characters or so, you have to get pretty creative about what you'd want to tell your network of people that actually want to hear what you have to say. Here's an example of a twitter from the CEO of Twitter - Steve Baker:

Stir crazy on cold spring day. Have biked, vacuumed, mowed, shaved. Nothing helps. Driving to Newark airport to pick up #2 son in an hour.

Do I really care about this? If I were talking to Steve in person, would I really expect him to say this if I called him and said "what are you up to?" Maybe.

I think this MSNBC article sums up pretty well why Twitter is dumb. Maybe it's that I'm old... Wait, I'm only 28. From the article:

Why do we think we’re so important that we believe other people want to know about what we’re having for lunch, how bored we are at work or the state of inebriation we happen to be at this very moment in time?

Ok - enough of that.

Why I'm wrong
I thought blogging was dumb too. I also thought that the iPod was an awful decision for Apple when they built the first 5GB model for $400 or whatever they charged. Some things I just completely miss because I can't see beyond the initial implementation. With blogging, at first I only saw people waxing philosophically about their lunch or politics. Frankly I never cared. Now - we see bloggers talking about how to fix problems, review products, and really help others answer questions generally on the web. There is still a lot of crap out on blogs today. (You're reading some of it now.) The content medium generally though is good. Maybe this is how twitter will end up.

People are building twitter-focused applications, plugging into services like desktop apps, Facebook integration, etc. Developers are using the service to discover interesting ways to solve problems. I wonder if we could use it in technical support?

Imagine a time when instead of a Support Engineer (the person you talk to on the phone) told you a solution. Instead of them writing a whole KB article on what the problem is and how to solve it, what if we empowered them to create a twitter message with the problem and resolution? That would get content out to customers a lot faster than the old system of the KB. What if we had a twitter feed that showed customers every time we published an article they cared about (think of it as another RSS-like implementation).

Is twitter a fad? I hope so. Do I still think it's dumb? Yup. Does that make me old? Probably.

Hunter Donald
Program Manager - Knowledge Management Strategy
Commercial Technical Support

 

Comments
  • I'm right there with ya, Hunter.  Feeling old.  (That's why, as my latest tweet reads, "I'm going to the gym."  (but you may already know that.)

    -Kevin

  • Hunter, it is not just the "old" that believes Twitter is bogus. I don't have a twitter account, but I do have a blog, but I only write on it when I have something worth writing about, and the only ones who read it are the ones interested in it. But that is more independent than other networks like Facebook, Myspace and Twitter. To me, those sites are just a joke. And I am 21 years old so I guess I am not cool, but in all honesty my theory on the entire subject of social media and networking is that it's pathetic if people have got to join every single one. I don't understand or see the point in Twitter. I find better things to do with my life and time, and rather than "tweet" about something my baby son does, I'd rather snap a picture and make a photo album and call family and friends rather than "tweet" it all over the world.  

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