"Twitter Does Not Foster Meaningful Discussion"

childrenThe title of this post comes from a corporate internal assessment paper reviewing methods of social media.  The details are not important, but the perspective is shared widely.  Beyond the eager advocates and the digiterati; acceptance or understanding of the Twitter social media tool is slow in many organizations.  Some who have a corporate need to listen, speaking here of journalists, are some of the tool's most eager adopters.  Others are not so sure, clinging to notions of control and hopes of engineering in what appears to be chaos. Many have written about the uses of Twitter during the San Diego fires and the Mumbai atrocity.  Since those public examples are not sufficiently compelling, allow me to get personal for a moment and note a few personal narratives - these may help explain my gobsmacked reaction when I first read the phrase that forms this post's title.

To me, Twitter is fostering some of the most meaningful conversations I'm having these days, and I'm having them with complete strangers - who then become part of my world.

* On 20 January, I spent the morning standing outside in a D.C. street, holding a purple ticket.  I sent a message via Twitter regarding the experience in the afternoon, and found myself being interviewed by telephone by a local media outlet within minutes.  A local television anchor also picked up on the messages sent by myself and others and promised to follow up.  The Purple Ticket of Doom is now legend, and the voices raised (I was but one of tens of thousands) via Twitter and elsewhere led to a necessary review of procedures and security for this historic event.

* A chance conversation about trust agents on the Web led to a business relationship whereupon I hired a virtual assistant who helped me get this page (and my business) together as I stood up Bordeaux & Associates, LLC.

* Another chance conversation with someone working in the intelligence community led to a business lunch with his friend, the CEO of a firm that delivers consulting talent to this community.

* An odd phone call this week, a recorded "robo-call" (questionable political tactic) from Gov. Mike Huckabee, led to my posting a message via Twitter - a bit tongue-in-cheek.  Someone who searches Twitter for evidence of this tactic contacted me in minutes, and this morning, Marc Ambinder of the Atlantic posted a piece detailing this development.  Calls were reported in Virginia and Washington State - Mr. Ambinder used my Twitter posting in his piece.

* A snippet of a Twitter conversation I was having this morning:

Some Guy in Germany: "Portals are long past obsolescence...if they can't be cracked open, "remixed", and "mashed" then info is lost like email"

Me: " Thinking about portals in terms of hybrid info architectures - central v decentralized. Do they have any use?"

SGG: "depends on def of portal. if info is accessible and self-descriptive in order to allow for new contextual relevance, then sure"

Me: "So new definition of portal may be in order. You're not assuming a "multi-level" taxonomy will satisfy those info reqs, I assume"

SGG: "dependence on centralization is a hurdle --> reduces possibility for new independent niches of knowledge and expertise to emerge"

Me: "My ref to centralization is decision-making authorities, not information arch. Grand strategy centralized, but learns from enviro"

SGG: "multi-level is focused on satisfying hierarchy reqs; I'm more inclined to focus on horizontal "linking" of data over aggregation" and " indeed, depends on the larger purpose not the particular tool or architecture...environ is by nature decentralized, as is context"

Me: "Agree on horizontal linking, what is mechanism for discovering and learning patterns?"

SGG: "good question! discovery based on faceted search and emergent info flows, learning patterns depend on perpetual analytics of data"

Me: " We're on same page. Context is extremely local and fleeting, and impossibly to *completely" convey. Thinking pattern discovery."

SGG: "we are definitely on the same page...the work flows of the org chart might not represent the actual or best movement of knowledge"

istock_000005970664mediumWhatever you take away from that conversation, it came about from an offhand comment I made to someone else regarding the (perceived?) obsolescence of enterprise portal technology.  That comment led to SGG's first message above.  In my practice, I'm developing a strategy for advancing a specific client's "community of practice" online resource.  This, and related, conversations will improve the value delivered to my client, as I test and explore the tenets that underlie my recommendations.

Twitter (and social media overall) is lowering the transaction costs associated with the global conversation.  The results, I anticipate, will be remarkably meaningful.