Can Twitter Trigger Innovation?

May 12, 2008

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.

I was talking to John Simonds last week and he thinks that some bloggers are using Twitter in place of their regular blogs. It might be the perfect solution for bloggers with short attention spans!

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.

About Judith Hurwitz

Judith Hurwitz is an author, speaker and business technology consultant with decades of experience.

  1. We’re looking at how it has the prospect of evolving to a far more commercial space, however, continues to engage users as individuals. But, the “I’m at the airport” Tweets will probably vanish, because, really, who cares?

    The brass ring that Twitter affords is “conversation.” Some will be human and some will be AI “agents.”

    If you think of how @saruhAI ( ) points to interactive conversation within Twitter, then extrapolate to “branded conversations,” how much better is that experience than pushing an infomercial?

    What a perfect blend of User Generated content (1/2 the conversation is UGC) with professional content?

  2. I agree with you that Twitter has some great potential outside of the silly comments people sometimes make. More businesses are finding uses. Some I find objectionable. It should not be used as a blatant sales tactic. It should be used to inform and educate as well as to build relationships with communities.

  3. I just wrote an article on some possible creative uses of Twitter. I believe it is all in how we perceive and utilize the technology. It’s only as innovative as we allow it…. or dream it…. Sure, we could leave it’s use at ‘what we had for breakfast’….but it could be much more.

  4. I too find Twitter to be extremely valuable for keeping up with the many things that go on simultaneously each day. I’m finding that Twitter has replaced IM with Twitter providing easy historical records and group communication that a standard IM platform just didn’t.

  5. There are several conferences going on this week. Within my Twitter network there is coverage at each one. We have been microblogging these events in real time. I have been tweeting sound bites for 3 days at the Gartner AADI conference while several others have been filling me in on the Enterprise 2.0 conference. This is a very good example of how special this tool can be if used for information as opposed to announce what is for lunch!

  6. Not only is it a channel, it’s been turned into a platform. Witness the tremendous number of apps being spawned simply to provide ‘function’ and because it’s ‘fun’ to do so — the true potential companies could leverage if they’d simply be willing to ‘let their resources go’, in epic moses-esque proportions.

    Twitter is a litmus strip. Watch and assess.

  7. One interesting use of Twitter is workstreaming, in which one keeps track of tasks, activities and time usage through constant documentation via Twitter. Done in a “private” account, this can be extremely powerful for the “loosely organized” such as myself, as it doesn’t require a “system” to use effectively–provided one can be disciplined in reviewing the streams, and honest in evaluating its content.

    When coworkers and management are let into the loop, it can also be an effective replacement for “face time”. Excellent for the “at home” worker, such as myself.

    I think Twitter is also incredibly effective as a news distribution network. Think “AP for the little guy”.

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