BoS digest: on Twitter

I’m late to Twitter. At first, I didn’t see the point. Why would I care that you had bacon and eggs rather than your usual organic muesli this morning, and how exactly can the headache that’s currently splitting my head rock your boat? But now, I’m hooked. I still don’t care about your breakfast and won’t tell you about my aches and pains, but I’ve slowly realised that I’d missed the point. It’s not about sharing the boring minutiae of our lives. Instead, I’m using it to share useful snippets of information I come across.

Did you know that Teddy Roosevelt said “The thrill is in overcoming your own fear” about bear hunting, or that Paul Romer said “A crisis is a terrible thing to waste”? When I read these, I have an irresistible temptation to share them. Twitter means I don’t have to resist: as Oscar Wilde said, the only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it. And did you know that Stephen Fry declared December 1st to be Oscar Wilde day and got hundreds of replies from his 25,282 followers?

So, if you want to know that President Tubman of Liberia gave two pygmy hippopotamuses to the Duke of Edinburgh in 1961, or that Churchill once said that however beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results, then join twitter and follow me. Often, but not always, if you squint hard enough and if you're clever enough then you’ll be able to spot a tenuous link to the business of software. My account is

I’m reinstating the question of the week on the Business of Software social network. This week’s question is Twitter: why do, or why don’t, you use it? I’ll send a $20 amazon voucher to whoever comes up with the best response.

I’ve posted the video of Jessica Livingston’s Business of Software 2008 talk online. Jessica talks about the lessons she’s learned from her interviews with, among others, Paul Graham, Steve Wozniak, Mitch Kapor and Joel Spolsky.

If you haven’t already done so, then check out the other videos of Steve Johnson, Cory Doctorow, Paul Kenny, Eric Sink, Dharmesh Shah, Jason Fried and Alexis Ohanian.

Elsewhere on the forums, people are still discussing their biggest marketing mistakes, whether to use resellers and whether product managers are overpaid.

Finally, I dug up Hewlett Packard’s original 1937 business plan. Read about it on my blog, and post up your comments. I’ll send a copy of the HP way by Dave Packard to the best reply.

Next week, I hope to bring news about Business of Software 2009. To stay up to date, follow me on Twitter, or subscribe to my blog, or sign up to the Business of Software social network.

6 responses to “BoS digest: on Twitter”

  1. Peter C says:

    Heh, I found this post via twitter. Twitter has entirely replaced RSS for me. Anything that will interest me is passed to me organically thru my followers.
    One tip – make sure you track replies to your name from non-followers. Twitters system makes it surprisingly hard to contact people that dont follow you.
    PS – Cambridge has a pretty lively twitter community, are you familiar with refresh cambridge?
    Peter. (Hejog on twitter)

  2. Peter,
    Good hint. I hadn’t thought of that. Nope, I hadn’t come across refresh cambridge. I’ll google them …
    – Neil

  3. Twitter, quite frankly, is now a way of life for me. A lot of information about SQL Server I see on Twitter first. The information about Azure coming out of PDC I knew about because of Twitter.
    Also, for those folks who I do care to keep track of the details, it’s an easy and asynchronously way to keep in the loop. Sure, there’s Facebook and other social sites, but they aren’t as quick and easy to jot a note like with a Tweet. So if a friend is having a bad day and they are in my follow list, I know about it a whole lot faster via Twitter than through the normal channels. Or if someone I know had some exciting happen, and they are on Twitter, again, that news travels fast.

  4. Like Peter I found this blog on twitter. So there is the quick informational uses…Like finding out about PASS sessions, or even when people blog. It is also a small enough digest of people who use technologies that I don’t usually care about…so I wouldn’t even subscribe to their blog…but I might click on a tiny url if the subject sounds interesting.
    But I think the thing that twitter gives me most is a reasonable connection to people that share common interests, but that I wouldn’t really have time to talk to all of the time. I often barely have energy to do my days work and some community stuff, and email/IM takes time. Twitter feels like a real side conversation with 100+ people.
    And I must admit that I like getting a nice mix of what people had for breakfast/lunch coupled with more interesting computer (or church) oriented happenings is a really fun way to get insight into the people. It is like a happy medium between actively communicating via IM or email and a more deep form of communication like a blog. I have met some interesting people over twitter and that makes it worthwhile.
    Even hearing about aches and pains is interesting stuff to get to know the person. For me, it is nice to have a virtual shoulder to lean on occasionally when I am having a bad day…which for me is commonly about pain I can’t seem to shake. All of these basic bits of information makes people feel “real”. The biggest problem with the Internet is that people don’t seem real (and too often when people are trying to be real, one of the persons is not really what you think they are 🙂
    So, really it is a good way to keep in touch with people that I will only see maybe once a year, and in some cases less. I fee that as long as the frivolity is kept to 10-15 percent of posts it is cool (or at least just a few a day). And if the frivolity keeps me from going to see just one bad movie, or finds me a new excellent restaurant…then it is all worth it 🙂

  5. Stephen says:

    I have heard of Twitter but do to consistant daily duties I hadn’t had a chance to research the concept. Now that I have it does seem to be a nobrainer as far as keeping in daily touch with friends and family anywhere on the globe. The 140 character response will allow the more interesting daily details which is usually the high point of any converstion. In a nutshell the product is cutting edge, a good way to share resources and ideas, and consumer use of it will most likely decrease cell texting and maybe other means of communicating online at least.

  6. softseeker says:

    Twitter is helpful. Giving me more information and relation. I’ll follow you on twitter. thanks.