Kevin Maney ponders now that Twitter is taking off, it threatens to create boring people (or at least, boring posts).
His argument is that we are going to be so overwhelmed by the technology -- that we are going to have to manage and update a plethora of online tools so they end up squeezing the very life out of us.
As someone who manages twitter, facebook, typepad, technorati, youtube, flickr, slideshare, digg, delicious, linkedin, friendfeed, etc. on a regularly basis, I can understand Kevin's point.
But, I disagree.
I believe different people get information in different ways. Some people love twitter. Others prefer a newspaper. Some like television. Others prefer to google their news. Some people (gasp!) prefer sit down meetings.
In order to reach a variety of people, you must reach out using a variety of information channels, tools and media.
In keeping with the focus on twitter, let's look at the two twitter accounts I manage:
- http://twitter.com/worldresources. This account, updated by several staff, is used to share news of interest to and about my organization. The tweets aren't just about what WRI is doing, it serves as an aggregator of news we are interested in. And we strategically follow tweets that can help us in our work, so while we are posting, we are also listening.
- http://twitter.com/lldoolj2. My personal twitter account is used to follow online marketing, web analytics, and social media tweets as well as some environmental and personal twitter accounts. I also post more personal tweets, but always with an audience in mind that is broader than just my family and friends.
- Depending on the nature of the tweet, these twitter accounts feed into friendfeed, facebook, websites, my cell phone, tweetburner, google, etc. And some twitterfolk run their rss feeds and twitpics through twitter. All of this collaboration with the twitter framework makes the tweet even more valuable as a source of information about me or my organization. Plus, with a 140 character limit, you don't have to think hard about how you are going to craft the post like you do when you write a longer blog post. Simple and succinct and you've got an information tweet.
Having worked with this media on a regular basis I see we are quickly approaching a tipping point in maintaining our online spaces -- soon we will find that many of the currently separate, individualized tools we use online are going to be integrated into a few key tools that can be accessed through an individual desktop.
While some have tried to create desktops in the past, they have been confined to a certain architecture and information space. I have accounts with Google and Yahoo and Earthlink which try to pull together a set of tools into a desktop, but none of these pull together ALL the tools I use.
Creating a successful individual desktop requires a built-in flexibility for the individual to access and create links to an infinite combination of tools unique to their own needs.
Which leads to the questions:
- How do we support such an infrastructure recognizing that in some cases we may need to maintain walls around proprietary, organizational, and private information (while still providing access to the verified user)?
- As information walls fall down, so do institutional walls. How to we successfully navigate this landscape?
As followup to the second question, I leave you with the 2005 TED Talk by Clay Shirky, author of "Here Comes Everybody: The Power Of Organizing Without Organizations" (February 2008). While the presentation is dated, it is the foundation for this book with themes just as relevant today as in 2005.