Like many techies out there, I’m usually very quick to sign up for new services/web sites/tools/etc. if even for no other reason that to see what it is and how it works. For me, Twitter was no exception. When it first debuted I signed up for an account and, shortly after, summarily decided that it was worthless to me. This is quite different than my viewpoint on technologies like blogs, wikis and other now-commonplace tools that we all use with great benefit today. I simply thought that I was not in the target demographic for Twitter – I wasn’t going to post my random thoughts on any sort of consistent basis and even if I did, the only people that might care weren’t really the type who would be so connected as to benefit from this method of communication.
However, a few weeks ago I a search result I received was linked to a Twitter post, and furthermore I knew the person who had posted it. A quick look at his Twitter page indicated an active discussion on topics that are near and dear to my heart, namely Unified Communications. This put me on a bit of a mission to see how many people in the community were using Twitter and what information was being communicated. I looked at the active topics and followed links to those users’ pages for an hour or so, more out of interest in the topics than anything else. Based on this I decided that I was missing out and needed to join in. It’s impractical to use Twitter via a web browser for more than a few tasks (too many clicks, searches, etc.) so I immediately downloaded TweetDeck, which allows you to have search columns that act similar to RSS feeds. It also includes columns that show your direct messages and mentions.
I quickly added search columns for #ocs and #ucoms and right away I had great views of all the discussions on these topics, complete with toast-style notifications of updates. Tweets on these hashtags include (but are not limited to) things like Q&As, rants about an issue, press releases, and companies/recruiters looking to hire.
Like anything, the system is not without its downsides. Using a nice tool like TweetDeck makes ReTweeting annoying since all the RTs contain the same hashtags as the original Tweet. Also, a limitation specific to TweetDeck is that there is no quick option off the taskbar icon to suspend the toast notifications. I do a lot of presenting so this means I have to either so modify the application settings or exit the app altogether every time I present. I usually end up exiting since it’s fastest and I have a tendency to forget until I get the first toast during the presentation. Respecting that the system is in a full screen presentation and automatically modifying the behavior of the app would be ideal, but the quick menu option would be a step in the right direction.
I’m still not the type of person who is particularly fond of (or thinks other people have an interest in) posting my random thoughts, so I’m more of a lurker than anything else. Even so, I enjoy the steady stream of data complete with plenty of bit.ly links if something of interest pops up. If you haven’t checked out Twitter recently for use in a business context then I would recommend revisiting it.