Twitter as a productivity tool

Since reading in Time this morning about How Twitter Will Change the Way We Live I have been musing on what that effect will be, and indeed how to think about the effect of Facebook and other social media, all from a professional perspective.

There is a lot of fun and social value to Twitter as well – I’m guessing we all love it as well for making us ambiently intimate with our friends and colleagues and for the fun and and interesting links it throws our way – but this post is about the dry professional stuff.

The starting point for my thoughts was a story in the Time article about a conference earlier this year called Hacking Education.  As many conferences do these days they set up a Twitter back channel using the #hackedu and whilst the Twitter conversation started out as being exclusively between people present at the conference by the end of the day there were a number of outside participants as well.  Moreover, these outsiders had contributed ideas that were taken up and integrated into the face to face discussion at the conference.

What Twitter did here was to provide a platform that allowed the conference to extend beyond it’s physical walls and allowed individuals who were not present to extend their reach right into the conference hall, in some small way at least.

Viewed this way Twitter is a tool with broadcast, filter and conversational features that allows us to touch and interact with many more people.  As such it extends our reach, efficiently putting us in touch with more ideas and more people, thus making us more effective – i.e. it is a productivity tool.

I think this notion of extended personal reach applies equally in our personal lives and also to social platforms other than Twitter, and if I can dream a little on a Friday afternoon, there might be enough here to unlock a new wave of productivity more generally.