Thursday, April 23, 2009

How and Why I Use Twitter

I confess that I am more than a little tired of Twitter meme in the mainstream media (aka MSM) and elsewhere at the moment. And I try my best to resist the siren call of making-my-opinion-known under such circumstances.

However, the MSM buzz has a variety of non-techie friends asking me about Twitter and why I find it useful. So here goes. This is not a generic "Why Twitter is God" but, rather, what I find particularly useful about it in my specific circumstances.

Thus, before getting into Twitter, what are those circumstances?

In a nutshell, I'm an IT industry analyst. This means that I write about and provide advice to companies that produce and consume enterprise technology such as servers, virtualization, cloud computing and so forth. Typical daily activities include researching the space, writing, doing advisory engagements, and attending conferences and the like. When I'm not traveling, I mostly work from home although my fairly small company does have an office about 45 minutes away.

With that as context, here's how I use Twitter:
  • I use it mostly, although not exclusively, for professionally-related matters--or at least topics connected to technology in some way.
  • I use it to monitor breaking news, links, opinion, and so forth in my professional areas of coverage.
  • Given that I'm often working by myself at home, it offers me a sort of "virtual watercooler" with professional colleagues and others. It thus offers some of the casual interchange that one gets in an office.
  • It helps me to maintain an ongoing relationship with and visibility to a variety of my clients.
  • I can promote links to pieces that I have written or that I otherwise would like to gain broader attention.
  • It offers a forum to do casual research.
  • I am reasonably selective about who I follow. I like to keep my feed to a manageable volume on a typical in-office day although I don't hesitate to turn things off if I need to go heads down. I eagerly await applications that do a better job of managing groups and otherwise help me to prioritize reading (as I do with RSS).
  • Of course, there's an element of fun as well and being exposed to serendipitous stuff that doesn't necessarily have anything to do with tech.

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