Twitter is useful

Summary:It's not often I call out my fellow Irregulars (we usually have those arguments in our Google Group) but on this occasion, Mike Krigsman has got this notion that 'Twitter is dangerous' wrong to the point of scaremongering.Mike uses the example of confidential information leaking out.

It's not often I call out my fellow Irregulars (we usually have those arguments in our Google Group) but on this occasion, Mike Krigsman has got this notion that 'Twitter is dangerous' wrong to the point of scaremongering.

Mike uses the example of confidential information leaking out. C'mon, that can happen anytime, anywhere. Twitter is only another channel through which that might arise. What I can say is that in the seven months I've been using Twitter, I've never seen anyone use it as a way of disclosing the kind of information Mike describes - or even coming remotely close. I have however seen plenty of people using Twitter as a way of promoting an agenda. I find that distasteful but then it is to be expected in an environment obsessed with self promotion.

Ed Yourdon makes the point that:

...that’s like saying that the Internet is dangerous because it enables children to see pornography, or because hundreds (maybe thousands) of people actually respond to those ridiculous Nigerian spam emails about millions of dollars in unclaimed bank accounts. Sure, Twitter is potentially dangerous — in the same way that any other form of instant messaging, e-mail, and blogging could be dangerous. Hey, while we’re at it, telephones are dangerous! So are letters mailed through the U.S. Post Office (assuming that any of them actually get delivered.) So is talking to other people, especially strangers. Who knows — maybe it’s even dangerous to think uncensored thoughts in the presence of advanced mind-reading devices operated by Homeland Security and the KGB.

Ed also points out the value that Twitter can bring, something to which I can personally attest. The ability to solve problems in real time among trusted colleagues represents huge upside. In one example today, a person had forgotten how to access the pound key on her laptop. Instead of going around to find someone who knows, she Twittered the problem and got two solid answers within a minute. That's a measurable business benefit.

When looking at any IT service, there is always a risk of one kind or another. Buyers should always evaluate the potential up and downsides. In this case, Twitter is one of those services that will likely creep under the radar in much the same way that email did. At some stage, management may have to exercise some measure of control, but it's easily solved through the kinds of common sense policies Ed suggests.

But let's look a bit deeper. Mike is an unashamed Twitter fan who assiduously prompts discussions - often about nothing at all of substance - but who also uses it as a way of pointing others in the direction of interesting things he finds along the way. He loves it. I'm guessing he's put on a cynical hat to see who might bite. He got me and he got Ed.

I guess what I'm saying is that in writing his post, Mike is parodying the IT departments we all love to hate. Those that would control our very existence if offered the opportunity. In describing that absurdity, we should thank Mike for raising a smile at this holiday season. ;) In the meantime, I too will be in the Twittosphere. Along with all the other 700,000 bleeding edge Twitter fans.

Topics: Collaboration, CXO, Government, Government : US, Social Enterprise


Dennis Howlett has been providing comment and analysis on enterprise software since 1991 in a variety of European trade and professional journals including CFO Magazine, The Economist and Information Week. Today, apart from being a full time blogger on innovation for professional services organisations, he is a founding member of Enterpri... Full Bio

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