Every time I venture to the Bay Area, I get whiplashed by technology.
The effect was magnified last week by attending David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” summit in San Francisco. It attracted more than its share of geeks with ambitions of using David’s marvelous techniques to get even more things done in their technology-leveraged lives.
Twitter was the talk of the town. My fellow panelists used it as the latest example of digital dementia, threatening to suck any remaining time we might have left into typing haiku-like messages of 140 characters or less, all to answer the seemingly innocuous question, “What are you doing right now?”
Even David Allen was tweeting. A monitor in the hall rolled all the tweets onto the screen, the little bubbles of information converging and bringing us news of what we were doing right then.
James Fallows, the Atlantic Monthly journalist, author, and a most tech-savvy guy, announced he would not be Twittering. With Fallows in the lead, I was going to resist the peer pressure to tweet.
But then other friends prevailed upon me to try it out.
One is globetrotting forecaster Paul Saffo, one of the plenary panelists along with Fallows and Guy Kawasaki. It would be hard to find a fellow more in love with pens, paper and functional leather goods than Paul Saffo. His journals are works of art (as you can see). Yet Paul is on Twitter.
“Twitter is digital haiku,” he says. “It forces logorrheic scribblers to be brief. The result is often unintentionally elegant, but even when it isn't, at least I don't have to wade through an email run-on.”
Leo Laporte, who happens to be one of America’s leading tech reviewers (aka The Tech Guy), told me Twitter might be the next killer app. A few CEOs are using it quite effectively to make closer connections with their customers.
“Ten years ago, Christopher Locke, Rick Levine, Doc Searls and David Weinberger in their book, The Cluetrain Manifesto, made the then-surprising assertion that ‘markets are conversations,’” Leo says. “They theorized that the new, Internet-empowered consumer would demand that companies become open, transparent and accessible: speak with a human voice. Twitter is one of several social media tools a business can use to open a conversation with its customers, to ‘speak with a human voice.’"
A third friend recommending Twitter is bestselling novelist Joe Finder. Joe wasn’t at the conference but on a flight to Barcelona—Twittering all the way. Here’s how this prolific novelist explains his tumble into Twitter:
“My editor and my assistant both tried to stop me, but it was too late. I’m a gadget guy, and I love new technology. Two weeks into this, I’d already developed a following (everybody develops their own following; it’s not like I’ve gone all Hollywood), and my followers post all kinds of fascinating stuff. I think we’re witnessing the birth of an entirely new type of communication—halfway in between private and public.”
So I signed up on Twitter.com with this hope: that engaging in this new technology will allow me to develop relationships with more of you.
With your help, we’ll learn how best to use this technology to help our customers.
If you’re not on Twitter and want to take the leap, it’s easy and free. Try it out and let me know what you think—with a tweet. Or let me hear from you here. Just click on the Comments link below. (If you’re reading this as an email, click here and you’ll connect to Comments.)
Worst case, we’ll be reading and writing short little sentences. To paraphrase Lincoln, “A short tweet can’t be all bad.”
(His original quotation: “A short speech can’t be all bad.”)