I was watching CNN the other day and saw one of the reporters had a twitter address. If you watch the news, you may have seen a story or two about micro-blogging. It’s a technology somewhere between instant messaging (chat) and blogging. What you write is often limited to about 140 characters like an SMS text message from your phone. The difference is that it is sent to everyone that is following you. You can listen in on other peoples messages too.
Twitter is the main micro-blogging service. I follow about 250 people. That sounds orverwheaming but they don't all talk at once, plus, if I miss a few posts, its not a big deal. A good number of those people I follow are directly related to my job. Many of the people that write about CAD for the various engineering magazines or CAD blogs are on twitter. There are many CAD analysts (the business type, not the FEA type) twittering. And, of course, many of the marketing, PR and community manager folks of the companies I’m interested in are there.
This not to say it’s for business people. One of the more quickly growing groups is simply the users of CAD, CAM, CAE and manufacturing products. It was interesting watching the other day when one CAD designer got stuck trying to create an unusual draft on a part and three or four CAD experts jumped in real time with a solution.
So how many CAD users are using Twitter? When I started with twitter a year ago, I think there were two! I was mainly there for other interests. Today, there are maybe a couple hundred people. This is still a relatively small group but considering the growth and competency of the people I’ve seen there, twitter is certainly an interesting resource. I recently asked some of the CAD folks why they use user twitter. Jeff Mirisola had a good reply "Early 'heads up'. Direct access with regards to certain issues. Discover the personality behind the name/rep."
One issue with twitter is that it is public. You can create a private profile but the people replying to you may still be public. What if you are more interested in sharing information inside your company or simply have security concerns? What if you want to make connections inside your business, not outside of it? In my next blog I’ll talk more about how micro blogging can work here too.