07 Mar 2011 Why would I need twitter?
Every generation thinks they invented sex.
There’s something about the psyche of 20 somethings – a kind of selective blindness that prevents them from seeing the blindingly obvious. There’s an assumption that their parents never did the things the way they do – whether that’s their recreation, parenting or sex – and that technical innovation is a little more ground breaking than it actually is. They’re never right. It’s always an exaggeration of the truth that is there’s no such thing as new, just a new way of doing the same.
But selective blindness isn’t the preserve of the young. Despite the clear benefits of some new ways of working, deeply embedded attitudes and a refusal to see the obvious benefits make change very difficult and poor management of change is one of the main features of failed technology implementation projects.
Twitter – the reincarnation of the telegraph
When the internet was gaining ground in the 1990s as a serious business tool there was an amusing paranoia amongst some who feared that if you let the internet loose on a workforce, no work would be done. They’d spend all day chatting, downloading porn and sharing company secrets with competitors. The fears were not entirely unfounded of course but what may surprise a few is that exactly the same sorts of fears were expressed during the 19th century as the telegraph was rolled out across the United States. Concerns were expressed that men and women would use the new communication medium to develop inappropriate relationships with one another – and indeed this did happen but the “problem” of a new technology was dwarfed by the benefits.
In my working lifetime I’ve seen it many times. “What would I do with a computer?”. “Mobile phone? The last thing I need is for people to be able to contact me 24 hours a day!”. And today “Why would I need twitter?”
It’s difficult to see how new ideas like social media will impact our working lives particularly when we work in areas where the impact is less obvious but when an innovation is having a significant impact in the B2C world, those of us active in the B2B world should be sitting up and taking notice.
The first step to understanding where social media will fit in is to recognize that it isn’t new. It’s only a new way of doing what we’ve been doing for millennia – communicating.