Those of you who have been following this blog for a while know that I have a strong interest in social networking. The interest I really have is in education, interaction and in community. So I actively explore social networking sites as a means for connecting with the federated search community. In August I wrote about community and formed a LinkedIn group dedicated to federated search. In September, when LinkedIn added a discussion feature to groups, I invited people to engage in groups. And, in late October, when LinkedIn added a news feature, I posted a few relevant articles to the group and invited people to check that out.
So, what have the results been in this foray into social networking? They’ve been mixed. While over 100 of you have joined the group, the level of discussion has been nearly non-existent. I realize that some of you may be benefiting from the group to network and to engage in private discussions and that it may be a bigger success than I think.
My desire to foster more two-way communication is still strong and I don’t give up easily. Last night I started a new experiment in community; I started tweeting on Twitter. When I first checked out twitter some months ago I was underwhelmed. I’ve taken a second and harder look and I found a number of reasons to explore Twitter as a community-enhancing tool:
- The effort to “set up” your account is very small. You register with an email address, user name, and password and you’re in. You don’t need to create a profile, write about yourself, or answer annoying questions.
- Using Twitter is trivial. You type in some text and that’s it. You’re limited to 140 characters. This means that Twitter isn’t about intimate conversations; it’s about communicating in “word bites.” More about this later in this article.
- There’s no notion of “friend.” This is good and bad. While it’s good to have friends and to have people in your network that you know and trust, I also find that I can’t easily communicate with those who aren’t Facebook friends or aren’t in my LinkedIn network. In Twitter, you follow the people you want to follow. Occasionally I run into people who have set up their accounts so that they approve requests to follow them but that’s a small minority.
- The effort to communicate is small. I like this A LOT. While I’m frequently too busy to write in-depth about a subject, I’m rarely too busy to broadcast a 140 character message, typically with a URL to something I think my “followers” – that’s what Twitter calls them – would appreciate.
- The effort to follow the useful “tweets” – that’s what Twitter calls posts – is small. I’m follow nearly 100 people and it’s very easy to scan their tweets to find those of interest to me.
If you’re not familiar with Twitter, this great video explains it well. What’s fascinating about Twitter is its simplicity and power. But, don’t dismiss Twitter as just a tool for telling anybody who cares that you had pizza for dinner last night. Read what Tim O’Reilly has to say about the power of Twitter in business. Tim O’Reilly is the founder of O’Reilly Media and a social networking visionary and he has over 16,000 followers on Twitter.
So, how do I plan to use Twitter to foster community?
- I’ve searched Twitter for tweets about federated search and I’ve started following people who tweet about the subject.
- I’m hoping that many of you will follow my tweets; my id is slederman.
- I’ll tweet when I discover interesting articles or URLs about federated search.
- I’ll promote the work of people whose conversations I discover on Twitter.
- I’ll use Twitter to learn what federated search-related topics people are discussing and to give me ideas for blog articles.
- I’ll post questions and requests for input and feedback. For example, I’m planning a year-end article for this blog and I’ll ask for ideas related to the subject on Twitter.
Join me on Twitter and leave me your Twitter name as a comment on this blog article and I’ll follow your tweets. (One warning: I don’t tweet solely on federated search. So, if you follow me, you’re going to get to know about some of my other interests.)
Tags: federated search