Friday, January 27, 2012

Thank Twitter

I follow TechCrunch on Twitter. TC outputs far too much content, of which only a fraction interests me, to be viable for my Reader. RSS works well for the dozens of feeds that output much less volume than the Mashables of this world; but with a much higher ratio of interesting content. This includes TechCrunch Europe! As an aggregator of content, Twitter works brilliantly for me; and for plenty of others. But that's not all Twitter is.

It was via Twitter that I came across a repost by Robin Wauters on TechCrunch, to a post by Bill Gurley of Benchmark Capital - a Twitter investor. In a nutshell Bill had argued that Twitter should not be "pitted" against Facebook by being called a social network when it is really a "better RSS reader" and "information utility"! True, it is, but there's much more to it than that.

Robin (correctly IMO) counters that while Twitter is used in that way, it is actually used by many different types of people in lots of different ways, including as a social network. All be it a very different one to Facebook. 

The multiple tools that are now available on Twitter make it possible to do most of what you can do on Facebook, but without having to stand naked in front of millions of strangers and the consequent harassment! Yeah, I don't have a personal Facebook account!!

Like many others, I ridiculed friends and colleagues who used Twitter in the early days. In my defence, much of it's usage was updates on visits to the toilet. But this did evolve and very quickly. Much quicker than I realised TBH. 

I'm sure the Twitter Founder's never envisaged it being what it is now - as is often the case. And you have to persevere with it before you find your sweet-spot. That in itself is incredible. That millions of users take the time. On the web, where patience is in notoriously short supply. This is only possible because it's 'free' of course. And instant.

For me Twitter is all of the above and much more besides. I use it in every which way. It continues to evolve; to morph over time. As I and the rest of the Twitterverse does. 

Twitter really starts to give, once you give to the discipline required to communicate with persons known, yet mainly unknown, in bursts of no more than 140 characters. This is a surprisingly different 'skill' to the 160 characters of SMS and one which few, if any, likely get straight out of the blocks. But thanks the work put into the Twitter platform, it's a far more powerful and creative transaction than SMS. It does come to you eventually, as it is starting to come to me. Believe it or not, using Twitter takes practice!

A benefit of this discipline is the summarising of subject matter concisely. Something I'll readily admit is not a forte of mine. A good example of this came in an exchange between myself and Adrian Pearson a couple of days ago. In discussing what differentiates SaaS vendors from the rest of the world he succinctly summarised my point with "taking tech out of the equation, it's about what you do and how you go about it"! Fair enough. Thank Twitter! 

Without Twitter, it's likely we wouldn't have even been aware of each other, let alone 'met' or 'chatted' briefly or walked away enlightened and with a soundbite to boot! Nor would I have been inspired to come back with a tongue-in-cheek one of my own. I call it 'the Bananarama Principle' (after that 80's poptastic classic), "SaaS is not what you do, but the way that you do it"!  

Thank Twitter indeed.

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