Twitter as Notification Tool

Posted Tuesday December 9, 2008 by John Gunders in |

Some of you reading this (admittedly, not many) have come to this post because of a notification from Twitter. As I have mentioned previously, the magic of Twitterfeed and RSS provides an automatic system to advise of new posts on the blog. I set this up for a couple of reasons: first, obviously, I’d like to increase the readership of the blog and this seemed like a good place to start; second, I am exploring various technologies that might help keep a group of people in touch with activities, when I cannot rely on them actively seeking out the information.

Increasingly we are seeing Twitter used for this purpose: news services such as The Age have Twitter accounts, as do CNN, Crikey, and others—including some that only exist on Twitter —as do social and political groups, and of course, politicians. Even The University of Queensland has its own news feed.

But I have my reservations about this. Part of Twitter’s appeal is that it is an ambient technology: short updates that add texture to complicated social interactions. At least initially there seemed to be some objections to information services and corporations coming into this social space: people wanted phatic connections with their friends, not notifications about the latest stock-market downturn. Going by the number of news providers now with Twitter, and the number of followers they boast, I suspect this is no longer the case.

So… Just supposing I managed a large organisation of loosely connected professionals—academics, say—and I wanted to find a way of keeping them in touch with news and opportunities within the organisation, would Twitter be the way to go? I’m keen to hear your views.

On a related issue, someone I follow on Twitter has pointed out that while The Age has 140 odd followers, it is following no one. Is this a bad look? Good point: I don’t know (I suspect Twitter etiquette—especially in relation to “corporate” users—is still in flux). Twitter is built on an assumption of reciprocity: if I follow you, then most of the time, you will follow me back. I have treated the Memes Twitter feed as little more than a sophisticated RSS feed, and consequently haven’t followed anyone. Is this rude?

It’s hard to think of Twitter an emerging technology, although it has been around for less than three years, but while the technology is now pretty solid (despite occasional visits from the fail whale) the social impact and response is still in development. It is fascinating to watch these changes take place.

Your Comments

  1. Matthew Smith writes:

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