28 June 2011

Twitter: Nesting in the Corporate Environment

A few short years after Twitter was no more than a fad for celebrities to comment on their lunch and ensuing aftermath, the micro-blogging service has grown into a valuable source for news, information, and entertainment. I resisted Twitter at first, I really did. I tell myself I did so because I wasn't sure what I would do with it, but it was really because my chosen username was unavailable.  Plus, the pressure 2 think up an observation that's clever / of worth in 140 characters w/o resorting 2 cutesy abbrevs. is hi #KnowWhatIMean (yes the preceding statement is 140 characters). However I dove in once my username was available, worked Twitter into my life, and I now ponder ditching my RSS feeds in favor of an enlarged and segmented Twitter feed. From what I gather in the press, the people running Twitter are working on ways to monetize this service I have come to rely on. So far they have cleverly applied the Internet-standard concept of advertisements as well as paying to promote certain tweets. This is something, but likely not the bales of cash every entrepreneur dreams of, so I ask: What about the corporate market?

Now, I spend a good amount of time staring at Twitter, as well as a fair amount of time reading tech blogs, and I'm a web programmer by trade, so I ponder things. As long as Twitter, Inc. controls the back end, Twitter remains a web app with an API masquerading as a service that is some cross between email, IM, RSS and blogging.  I can envision Twitter, Inc. selling server software a la Microsoft Exchange, Kerio, or Lotus Notes,  If not that, why not package up a Twitter server into a networked appliance that you plug in to your corporate LAN, configure, and use as an open collaboration and broadcast tool? A "Nest" (NEtworked Server for Twitter?), if you will. Twitter forces brevity and is searchable. It allows for both instant and asynchronous communication, and as stated above is perfect for broadcasting information to subscribers.

Imagine a global corporation where the email inboxes overflow, IM clients aren't logging conversations so snippets of useful information are lost, the corporate Intranet is only ever used for timesheets and insurance forms. That's a lot of companies. Now, ditch the IM client and plug in a Twitter Nest. Management is able to broadcast items to relevant staff while staff tweet questions or ideas to each other. Email is only used for lengthy transfers of information and soon all of the short items that fill up mailboxes disappear. IM conversations are stored in the Nest's database, and are searchable, so no great thought or bit of information passed along six months ago is lost.  Employees can access it from their mobile devices, and the generation entering the workforce has a contemporary tool for communication that helps them be productive immediately.  My desk at my first job out of undergrad had an electric typewriter sitting on it.  It was fun to use at first, but slowed me down more than anything. I'd been using computers for years at that point and wanted no truck with that aging curiosity.  Also, though subject to a litany of security issues that makes Leviticus look like light beach reading, A Nest could offer funcionality that allows a corporate server to be tied in to the Internet-facing public Twitter server network, taking some load off and making the Fail Whale a rara cetacea.

I picture a near future where everyone has their office Twitter client open and office communication is more efficient and streamlined, and while we're at it, a little more fun. #IWillNotMakeAWeinerJokeHere

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