22 April 2009

Is Twitter really "all that"?

I have not been sold on this Twitter idea since I first heard about it. Seems like something that I could use if I want to feel important. What use is there in people "following" me on Twitter ... keeping up with my every move? Or telling them when I've updated my blog? Just follow my blog. One blog describes Twitter as "a rapidly proliferating communication platform that is helping define a new era of technology as centuries old media models are disrupted. " What does that really mean? What does it do? What does it change? How does it improve anything?

What would make me decide to blog about my doubts about this ever-increasingly popular microblogging? Several bits in the news lately.

Earlier this week, there was a story about Army challenging Ashton Kutcher on Twitter - what does that even mean? Both the Army and the Air Force have actually been "tweeting" for some time now. On the news this morning that the co-founder of Twitter was part of a State Dept delegation to Iraq to see how their government can make better use of social media (yeah, I saw the story on the old-fashioned, mainstream news, while watching my old (i.e. not flatscreen, not HD) TV) - hey that's a double paranthetical statement (pretty cool).

**As a side note, the Army's move is doubly interesting given it's concern about Twitter just a few months ago ... **

What is the big gain that social media will give to the Iraqi media? Will they be better able to communicate with their constituants? Will they be better able to have active debate? I'm doubtful. Hopefully, reports in the coming weeks will demonstrate that my doubts are unnecessary and there is something more to this than I can see right now.

What is our own government doing with social media? Not much. I was fascinated when the new administration announced the new White House blog ... but that's turned out to be non-interactive. In other words, they're using a new media term but still doing old media stuff like posting their own press release-like material. Where's the interaction - the feedback from the citizens the blog is meant to engage (or, is it just to inform)? Would Twitter improve interaction? Would it increase discussion? Again, I'm doubtful.

There is some discussion on one of the CGSC blogs about the usefullness of Twitter to the Army. Some decent points are made, some good anecdotes are shared, but I'm still unconvinced. Not everything that is new and all the rage is necessarily good. Perhaps we'll find this Twitter rage is just a fad. Perhaps we'll find that having our military services "followed" is not as helpful as some think. Or, perhaps I'll be proved wrong ... it's certainly happened before.

And, oh yeah, I wasn't really sold on this whole blogging thing before I started this project. Maybe I should begin tweeting!?

20 April 2009

Obviously slowing down on the blog ...

To my faithful readers, you've likely noticed that I haven't been posting much lately. That's due to a couple of reasons:
* been really busy with other stuff
* the academic project is completed and my brain is not as focused on this topic as it once was
* I feel like there had been some great discussion about ideas here but I'm short on new ideas to kick around

My intention is not to stop blogging here ... but you can expect that the posts will be much less regular. I will likely reserve posts for new ideas that I hear about (or the few that pop into my own head).

The comments that have been left along the way over the past six months or so have been extremely helpful personally as I try to decide just how I really feel about Soldiers blogging. Many of you have brought up points and counter-points that I would not have otherwise considered. Others pointed me toward some other great thinking and writing on the subject. Thanks to all of you. The project that began as something of an experiment turned into something extremely beneficial - personally, academically, and professionally.

I hope that when I do post in the future, the discussion will be just as useful as it has been in the past. Who knows, maybe someone out there in a position to change the Army's policies toward new media has been positively affected by the conversation you took part in. I hope so.