It was my birthday yesterday (New Year’s Day), and I remarked on Twitter that I seemed to be getting more automated greetings from message boards and the like than I was getting from real people.* Naturally, a number of folks set out to redress the imbalance , specifically J A di Paolantonio, Rob Paller, Neil Raden, Claudia Imhoff, Gareth Horton, Donald Farmer, IdaRose Sylvester, and Seth Grimes.
*In retrospect that was a silly comment, made soon after midnight while humans were generally either partying or asleep. But it’s the set-up for the rest of this post.
Sheer self-indulgence aside — “Happy Birthday To Me!!” — I see something blogworthy in that. Indeed, it reflects the emergence over the past 6 months or so of one particular Twitter community. Takeaways include:
1. The responders weren’t a randomly selected subset from among those of my 1304 Twitter followers online when I tweeted. Every person who responded is an industry analyst, a BI expert, or both.
Yes Virginia, there are some enterprise IT folks on Twitter.
2. Members of the community seem to follow each other’s tweetstreams in their entirety. Many of their tweets are in direct reply to or otherwise inspired by each other. Indeed, based on the timing, I suspect a lot more folks were inspired by Neil Raden’s message to me than by my original post.
3. Unlike me, these other folks seem to keep their followee lists small enough to engage with. 100ish numbers of people followed is not uncommon. By way of contrast, I follow 1682 people, which means that despite considerable care about who I follow, I wind up almost never actually checking what the tweetstream contains. (Instead, I usually just tweet something and react to the @replies.)
I no doubt like the charming Claudia Imhoff at least as well as she likes me. Even so, if there were a group of tweets about her birthday, I might well miss it — especially at first — just because I follow too many people to keep up. More on that point in another post (coming soon).
4. Twitter is really just another venue for the evolution of an already-extant community. The independent BI analysts tend to travel as a pack anyway, to venues such as TDWI and Teradata Partners conferences, or to local gettogethers they hold in Colorado.
5. But Twitter does help that community evolve. I’ve really been brought into the club via Twitter. For example, the conversations that led to my teaching at the next TDWI Conference grew out of an email from Wayne Eckerson to the effect “Hi. I follow you on Twitter, and generally read your stuff. Can you help with a particular hardcore DBMS technology question I’ve run into?”
6. Twitter connections are useful. Twitter has made it easier for me to have offline conversations with Claudia, Wayne et al. My user-focused consulting services will be much richer for that.
Six months ago I felt that Twitter was dominated by the “new-age” tech folks — search engine optimizers, podcasters, social media consultants, Web 2.0 gurus and the like. But in one particular enterprise area — business intelligence — traditional IT folks are active as well. Perhaps similar ones will emerge in other areas of IT too.