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April 20, 2009



I'm convinced Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, and other forms of social media will eventually become an integral part of life. (If some of them disappear, I bet new ones with similar functions will emerge to take their place.)

I think a lot of people are preoccupied with figuring out how to use these tools to increase profit, promote products, or find clients. In my view, that isn't the purpose of social media. These are platforms designed to facilitate human interactions, build relationships, establish trust, and stay in touch with friends and peers.

Because I regularly post updates about what's going on with my life on my Facebook wall and browse my friends' walls, when I do meet them in person, I don't have to ask , "What's been going on with your life?" Instead, we start talking without missing a beat. (Case in point: I haven't seen Roopinder for weeks, nor have we exchanged emails, but because we're connected on Facebook, I know he's just signed up for Bay to Breakers and he is barely recovering from a marathon.)

Similarly, on Twitter, I've been able to take advantage of the collective wisdom of the crowd. When I was in Boston for the first time, I tweeted, "Where's the best place to go for dinner and nightlife?" In 15 minutes, I got 6 replies. 5 of them recommended The North End. (The Italian meal I had there was wonderful.)

The challenge, however, is figuring out how to keep personal and professional interactions separated. For now, I've just accepted the merging of the two as inevitable.


I'm a twit. And I tweet. I manage the @vectorworks account and have found online brand management through twitter helpful, satisfying and fascinating.

The 140-character space to communicate allows me to connect with our community of users in a manner and style that simply wouldn't be possible in email or in other online tools.

Plus, I like to monitor what other industry thought leaders are saying about CAD software. Overall, two thumbs up for twitter.

Mark McDonough

I've been resisting these "social networking" sites, as they seem such a time sink, and I'm not convinced the time and energy required to make one's blogs "vital" or compelling pays off for business use. My wife has been drawn into a couple of these, recently Facebook, and SparkPeople for quite a while (extensive social networking site around health, fitness, and exercise), spending enormous amounts of time captivated by the online social experience. She started a Spark page for me, even upon my reluctance, although mostly all I do is post my running activities and stats.

I have also explored LinkedIn, but again found it to be a bewildering foray into the unnecessary. People collect friends and contacts as if some sort of trophy game or race, to have as many friends and contacts as possible, whether or not they really are valuable friends and contacts.

If I'm a twit, it is because I am truly a twit and not a twitterer.


I have used Twitter for about a year as part of a wider adoption of social media tools and techniques that has enhanced my professional working life a lot - though I do try to maintain a strict divide between that and my personal use of social media.

Like Mark Burhop, I've found they help me discover and keep in contact with useful information or people, and I increasingly use Twitter and Delicious instead of email to share interesting links.

Tweetdeck has really helped me make good use of Twitter. It helps me sort out incoming updates into groups, so that I can quickly see what's come in from people I associate with a particular topic, and its search provides a steady feed of updates - perhaps from people I don't know - on topics or keywords that I am currently interested in.


Roopinder -- you "invited" me to follow you on twitter several months ago, and I have been extremely grateful that you did! I think that as long as you are "following" and being "followed" by your peers (not just random users), the site is quite useful. For example, I can easily imagine an engineer stymied by a design problem using twitter to ask for help. From my point of view, as a technical writer, I have gotten several invaluable sources from twitter, one example being the chief product lead at Apple who I then used as an article source. P.S. -- Schenzen, China was great!!

Dora Smith

Roopinder, good post & debate. I wouldn't say it's a foregone conclusion. Just probably no nay-sayers at a congress on the future. As far as concrete examples of its usefulness, Mark Burhop has many more than me...but from a company standpoint I've seen it used in answering customer and prospect inquiries, some crowd sourcing and at times competitive differentiation. Personally it's connected me in a more useful way with an organization I used to only occasionally interact with before. If I didn't see real advantages I wouldn't keep using it.

You know you're the one who paved the way for online, aggregated content in our industry. Twitter is sort-of Roopinder 2.0. Instead of Tenlinks, it's one link at a time - shorter, digestable content. Top link of the day...

Let's discuss more next time we meet up in person (or over Twitter, whichever comes first).

Mark Burhop

Roopinder, Matt,

Thanks for keeping me grounded :-) I did here the COFES discussion on social media was interesting and good points were raised on both sides. I wish I was there.

However, to the point of the blog, I was able to follow a lot of COFES either via tweets or live blogs while still getting work done at the office. If we could measure my ROI for this, I bet it was pretty high.

Twitter, Facebook, whatever are just more tools. They might help me discover useful information or people, they might help me short cut some email. If there is a net gain, you use them.

Of course, if someone is not already using IM, DM, Twitter, Facebook or SMS for other things, its a bit of a hassle. The problem is that every kid coming out of college has this base in place and many adults are there too. It is just getting too hard to limit yourself to email, a phone and a search engine.

Matt Lombard

Twitter I think has peaked. Oprah coming to twitter is probably a milestone meaning something, although who's to say what it is.

It's ok for broadcasting information, and good for small group chatter that you don't mind everybody listening in on. You've got to be the kind of person who has loud conversations on your cell phone in public places to enjoy twitter much.

I don't find it particularly useful for work stuff, or tech information. I find myself using it less and less.

I think the real advantages are imaginary rather than concrete, which is why you don't hear them articulated. Still, texting became huge even though it is mindbogglingly inferior to voice on the phone. I don't believe content or actual function has much to do with why this stuff becomes popular, and people perceive it as useful, even when it's not.

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