Like a lot of people, I’ve been wrestling with how to understand Twitter. I think I’ve finally figured it out. Kami Huyse calls it “Instant Message on steroids.” I’m going way back to the Dark Ages before the ‘net and calling it “CB Radio for the ‘net.”
We all used to drive around pretending we were truckers, saying things like “Breaker 1-9 for a 10-36” and hoping there was someone out there who would tell us what time it was so we could chat for a few minutes. Or we would meet friends on the air and make arrangements to stop for coffee.
It was fun but it was only useful within a really short radius because the radios were limited to 5 watts of AM power, which gets you about two miles away on a good day.
Twitter gives you the same partially random network but with global reach.
You make connections you might otherwise not make. Example: Alex Hillman of Independents Hall in Philadelphia tweets yesterday about how quickly Hyku posted some photos online. I’m sitting in a PRSA Conference panel that is just about to start when I read this tweet. Hyku, a/k/a Josh Hallett, is sitting on the panel. So after the program I go over and say, “So what’s this about you and Alex Hillman and some pictures?” Josh does a slight double take and says “how did you know,”, but his eyes immediately widen with recognition when I shrug and say “Twitter.”
And people can enhance each other’s day by being coaches or giving tips or just by reacting to what they are hearing in a way that offers dynamic feedback to the person being tweeted. Today, Josh came to my program on using podcasts to promote thought leadership. At one point he tweeted a negative challenge in reaction to something the other presenter said, and I was able to adapt my response to an audience question in a way that addressed his concerns — a dynamic morphing of the presentation tailored to some real-time feedback from the audience.
This could be really powerful if we could get the hang of reading and typing and speaking all at the same time.