I could tell you how many steps make up the streets rising like stairways, and of the degree of the arcades' curves, and what kind of zinc scales cover the roofs; but I already know this would be the same as telling you nothing. The city does not consist of this, but of relationships between the measurements of its space and the events of its past...A description of Zaira as it is today should contain all Zaira's past. -Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Tweets and Yams

I originally signed up for Twitter (@lxmack) a while ago, but didn't really do anything with it--no tweets, no followers. Then had a couple of friends sign up to follow me...still didn't do anything. A few weeks ago I thought that I should give it more of a try...and I have to admit that I still don't get it.

I suppose I could come up with plenty of things to tweet about (the process of buying a new washer, the mystery of the blood in the house) but it seems time consuming and I am not sure who wants to know. My colleague John Braun very kindly encouraged me and gave some great advice, the most intriguing of which was his comment that Twitter can act like a group brain--ask a question and get an immediate answer.

On the flip side, I joined Yammer about the same time I tried to get active on Twitter. Best quick explanation of Yammer is that it's like Twitter for inside a company (you have to have a valid email address on your corporate domain), without the 14o character limit.

I joined Yammer after reading about it because I wanted to see how it might help our innovation initiative--one thing I keep hearing from folks is variations on a theme of needed to connect to other employees. I have to admit, Yammer wasn't very interesting at first. I was maybe the 3rd or 5th person from my company to sign up, meaning there wasn't a lot of activity. However, in the last couple of weeks around 150 people have signed up, with some very active participants. Aneta Hall has written a very informative post about our experience and how norms have been established.

And I have to admit, the group brain works. Ask a question, get an answer, and now I am talking to folks I never knew, in entirely different parts of the company. To be fair, for all the activity, it does seem to come from a core group of users. Hard to know how may are lurking, and how many signed up and haven't checked back in. One colleague from a different department called me today to say that Yammer seems to him like a "never-ending hallway conversation" and it wasn't meant as a complement.


Anonymous said...

Awesome post! I just wanted to let you know that the link to Aneta Hall's blog is broken. It looks like it's missing the : in http://.

Alex said...

Thanks, glad you liked it...and the link is fixed now.

Aneta Hall said...

Alex, what continues my addiction to Twitter is the serendipity that it brings to my (rather ordinary) life.
For Yammer, the value comes in making connections to employees I would not otherwise have a chance to interact with. The downside is that I want to hear from as many folks as possible and end up following them which will soon become a time hog. Thinking about the best strategy for keeping my ear close to the ground and being able to manage the growing number of "yams"