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Closed Captioning Provided by...Twitter

This week has been a rush of new technology for me. I joined Facebook and finally had a chance to communicate with friends who I hadn’t talked to since I became a mother. Then when I joined Twitter, I was skeptical. I couldn’t figure out why this even existed when you could blog on Facebook and share pictures too. As soon as I started using the application I realized its potential as a workstreaming tool.

I shared my experience with Twitter casually with my supervisor and manager at work in a “hey guess what I did this weekend? fashion and I received eye rolls and responses like “interesting…so you aren’t doing this from work are you?? and “oh I did that as part of my Master’s program too, but it’s not really applicable to what we do here.? I was so disappointed. Here I was imagining how much more work I could get done if I could communicate via Twitter or IM instead of being interrupted mid flow by “prairie dog? behavior (Zelenka and Sohn, 155). I envisioned online conversations with our vendors instead of daily half hour conference calls with NetMeeting for updates, and replacing our monthly con call with Ireland with a microblog so we could collaborate more regularly on projects. This would be especially useful considering one of our department goals is to align best practices between the two groups. But, this technology just doesn’t apply to our work environment…

One other comment about the Connect! reading that really struck home with respect to my workplace was the idea of how social networks work (Zelenka and Sohn, 166-167). Medical device sterilization is a niche field, once you are in you will probably stay in. So when I read the definitions for homophily, clustering, small worlds, and stagnation I was immediately reminded of my department and how often you hear “because that’s how it has always been done? (Zelenka and Sohn, 166-167). I worked through the definitions for weak ties, dilution, and cross-pollination and I was reminded that the knowledge I pick up from my husband who is in the specialty gas industry, my friends who are computer programmers and software testers, and my classmates who come from all different backgrounds, is very valuable to my team. For example, had I not talked with a friend of mine who works at a different company in IT, I would never have figured out how to get our new software program installed because our firewall was inhibiting the license registration.

Finally, I was particularly amused by the submarine periscope analogy (Rangaswami, Thinking about Twitter) and the concept of the “adda? where everybody is talking at once and yet the conversational whole somehow auto adjusts so that each individual conversation finds a balance within the whole (Rangaswami, Musing about Capillary Conversations). I think of workstreaming and Twitter like a narration, a play-by-play, or closed captioning for life. Have you seen the movie Stranger than Fiction?

Food for Thought:
Are microblog posts directly influenced by the content of posts around them, or are they isolated? In real life it seems that a conversation is influenced by nearby conversations and actions. Is this also the case in the blogosphere?

Comments

Based on my experience from the past few days on Twitter, I would say that microblog posts are significantly affected by their surrounding posts. For example, when one person posts about great food they've recently eaten, other people read it and chime in with their own experiences. I'm sure this would apply in the worlds of business and academia as well. It seems that one of the best things about microblogs is that you can see many opinions on the same subject without having to scroll too far.

Sad day that your coworkers were not jumping on board with Twitter! In my experience I think that some people either get it or they don’t in relation to technology and various applications on the internet which can usually be attributed to the generation someone is from. My mom is completely computer illiterate and doesn’t really see the need for it whereas my younger brother is constantly on it either playing games, doing his homework and reading sports articles. It makes sense that people would be leery about replacing something they have known to work to communicate (say in an office setting) with an internet application like Twitter. It’s true, Twitter does have some limitations but I feel like it has numerous benefits for the workplace; like the ways you described how Twitter could make things easier at your job Liz.

In response to your comment, I would think that in the blogosphere, microblogs would be influenced by other conversations and nearby actions although I haven’t had much experience blogging. But it seems that people would be just as eager to share things in a blog that they have heard or discovered just like they would in normal conversation.

Re: Food for thought

I have only been on Twitter for a short period of time but I think that the microblogging is often affected by the other posts. I just learned about the reply function on Twitter and I think it's great. On a personal note, when more people who are on Twitter write something personal or funny it inspires me to do the same thing. I also think that this is a good tool for work environments because it enhances the relationship aspect of working in small groups, which I think is also important.

Yes I have seen "Stranger than Fiction", and your thought on work streaming is a play by play narration makes me smile.

And double yes on your food for thought. I do believe the microblog affects other blogs and vice versa.

Since they are so tiny it could be argued that there isn't enough room to write a complete thought out, but it is not so much about content as the audience reading said content. I like to think of it as that urban legend about "A friend of a friend", one person says something casual but interesting to a particular audience and than the word spreads.