Twitter and the Usefulness of Real Time Social Networks

I don’t feel the same way about Twitter as I do about my blog. If I don’t get a chance to, uh, tweet for a couple of days, I don’t feel an itch to get back at it. I’m in Twitter because, as my colleague once put it, “it’s an excellent lens for focusing attention”. These days, I can’t not be in Twitter. In a year, I’ll be saying that about some other tool, no doubt.
That said, Twitter sure is handy for solving tiny, localized problems. For example, today I asked my tweeps (and don’t get me started on the language around Twitter) three questions, and each one was well-answered:

  1. What’s your preferred local ISP? I got two quick votes for Retrix.
  2. Where, aside from Future Shop, could I order an external hard drive online from a Canadian Vendor? I probably got ten responses, and most of them were for NCIX. They’re reputable, but pretty geeky.
  3. What’s up with the live, online feed for the Canucks game? I had some browser troubleshooting to do there–others verified on Twitter that it was “working for them”.

We need to continue to be skeptical about the value and distraction effect of these always-on and always-connected tools. Still, they can prove handy if you’ve got a problem (and particularly a geeky problem) to solve.

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