Can Twitter Trigger Innovation?
A few months ago I wrote a blog entry criticizing Twitter . I was not sure I got the relevance of this micro-blogging site. So, I decided that it made sense to spend time getting deeply involved in a Twitter community to test it and see if my opinion would change.
Here are my thoughts now. First, I am finding myself intrigued by Twitter. It is a quirky environment. I see some comments like “I am drinking my first cup of coffee of the day” or “My airplane is delayed.” I think that I know too much about some people’s daily habits and not enough about others. I also get breaking news on twitter and find some fascinating links from political pundits. I am finding that I get some unique insights into people I know and people I don’t. Some entries are simply entertaining and make me laugh. My colleague, Robin Bloor, for example, has been posting haikus that are wonderful. I look forward to them. I exchange comments on topics with other analysts that I have gotten to know over the years. I am also reconnecting with people I haven’t talked to in years.
So, I think I have changed my mind to a certain extent. Twitter does fill a role in a world where our time is sliced thinner and thinner and where we don’t always have the time to pick up the phone and call. It provides a way to create micro-communities that have intriguing possibilities.
I think this is just the beginning of what we will see in the next five years. It reminds me somewhat of the early commercial Internet days. It was an intriguing platform that has potential but needed to evolve. How will Twitter and other similar sites evolve? I think that we will see the refinement of specialized closed groups focused on either topics or issues. I could see, for example, a company setting up a Twitter-like capability to allow a team of scientists or researchers to ping each other with quick ideas. This is different than traditional communications methods used by these groups. In formal conversations or papers these participants feel compelled to write long and complicated explanations of ideas and concepts. If you are limited to a hundred or so characters you are forced to get the core of your idea out very, very quickly.
Like email in an older generation, Twittering could have the effect of quickening the pace of communication — but in a radically different way. Sometimes the most important innovation comes from a single phrase or idea that expands into a universe.
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