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Anti-social girl joins Twitter

Posted by Kathi Chenoweth on October 29, 2008


I joined Twitter last week.  Now, I’ve gone on record as being anti-social, so this didn’t seem like something I would like.  I’m only following 15 people so it’s pretty quiet so far.  But here is what I have observed:

Twitter is like working in cubicles.

You know how in cubicle-land you are intently focusing on your work, and then you hear the person in the next cubicle start talking on the phone?  That is the ‘beep’ of twitter:   Hello!!!  Bring your attention HERE, right now!

You look at the tweet, and you see a one-sided conversation.  But wait!  Twitter improves on that.  You can go find the other side of the conversation.  So instead of being annoyed at your co-worker who is interrupting your focus by discussing something trivial very LOUDLY on the phone – you can now hear BOTH SIDES of the trivial/loud conversation!  Great, huh?  Please note that NONE of the fifteen people I am following are having annoying conversations.  I just said that for dramatic effect.  The people I follow are always interesting.

These eavesdropped conversations are sometimes even work-related.   Even better, if you don’t understand something the person is referring to, they will include URL’s with more information.  Now that’s something you can’t get from eavesdropping through the cubicle wall!

And if you are really interested, you can just butt in to the conversation.  Imagine doing that to your cubicle neighbor.  But in Twitter, the person expects and encourages you to eavesdrop.  Cool.

Twitter also improves upon cubicle land by allowing everyone to talk to themselves while they work, and have their mumblings be heard across the entire office floor and beyond.   When your crazy-talks-to-himself coworker mumbles from his cubicle “why won’t these numbers on the spreadsheet add up?”, he doesn’t expect an answer does he?  But in Twitter, he gets responses.  Someone may just commiserate– “I hate spreadsheets too”.  Another person may offer help –“here try this cool tool for fixing spreadsheets”.   Another may just distract him from his miseries — “free tacos at Taco Bell today!”

I don’t currently work in a cubicle, but I spent many years doing so early in my career.  I also had some worse-than-cubicle experiences as a consultant.  Cubicles for all their faults (lack of privacy, distractions) had some real benefits (collaboration, sense of belonging, “knowing what is going on”).

If, like me, you had a love/hate relationship with cubicles, then you may want to give Twitter a try.  I’m going to stick it out.  Here’s hoping more than ten people decide to follow me.

11 Responses to “Anti-social girl joins Twitter”

  1. Rich said

    I’ve never heard of anyone think of Twitter that way (probably because I’ve been out of the cube scene for so long), but it’s pretty well put. Most of the time, I like to avoid Twitter just because there’s too much distraction, but the thought of not being in the know bothers me enough that I have to pop my head in every once in a while.

  2. Mark Bennett said

    Excellent analogy and welcome to Twitter, Kathi! I’m trying to figure out if there is a Twitter equivalent to the cubicle neighbor that slurps their coffee really loud…

  3. Excellent analogy. you forgot a very important link in your blog, however, and that is to your Twitter page :) I believe the user search is down at the moment.

  4. Eddie Awad said

    Great analogy. What’s your twitter username so we can follow you?

  5. Mark Bennett said

    …I did just hear about “vlingo” which allows you to update your Twitter or Facebook status from your Blackberry through voice recognition. Handy when you are driving. So, along with, “Traffic on 101 is bad. I’ll be late.” you could also have, “Slurp. Mmmm. Now that’s a good cup of coffee!”

  6. I like the analogy. The good thing about twitter (and IM and email) is you can turn it off, I have wished for off buttons on noisy cube neighbors a lot, my solution was always to put headphones on with some loud music to drown out distractions.

  7. Kathi Chenoweth said

    My username is kcheno

    http://twitter.com/kcheno

  8. Meg Bear said

    Mark I do think there is a Twitter equivalent for almost every annoying cube habit, also the nice ones. Really glad to have you on Twitter Kathi, makes you more “local” somehow.

  9. Vivian Wong said

    Great post Kathi! For the record, I always find what you say interesting so I am your loyal “follower”. ;-)

  10. GretchenA said

    Yay, another convert! I agree with using Twitter to be “in the know”. I’ll be interested to see how this works for the self-described Anti-Social Girl. It seems like a place where you can get more or less out of it depending on your needs, and certainly there’s no risk of throwing sheep! Let us know how it goes.

  11. [...] street where the manager reviews your performance. In some ways, a Performance Review is just like social networking (such as Twitter/Facebook)- some make the most of it, while others think it’s a [...]

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