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Twitter Your Issues

By Steve Jones,

TwitterI've been using Twitter for about 4 or 5 months now and it's one of those things that I'm not sure of the benefit of using it. Someone asked me to try it, which I did for 60 days and was about to abandon it. Then someone else asked me to keep going through the PASS Summit, so I agreed. If you're really interested, you can follow me, though I'll warn you it's not all that interesting. I've combined it with Facebook updates, and so it's not a lot of work, but no promises that I'll keep doing it after the end of this year. I'll try to update from the PASS Summit so you can find me if you really are bored.

In any case, I stumbled upon this interesting Powershell script the other day that updates Twitter. I almost blew by it, but with all the Powershell integration that is available in SQL Server 2008, I stopped to check it out. And I took a few minutes to stop and think about what value there is here.

Twitter is a social grouping mechanism. It allows you to be part of some group and bascially multicast out a series of messages from any person to the group. If some your friends are heading out to a movie, they can broadcast that we'll be at the Twenty Mile Theater to see Quantum of Solace at 9:30, any of the group that "follow" you can see that and come meet you without you calling them or them calling you. It's nothing magic, but it's this many to many type of broadcast mechanism.

I thought this might be interesting for a team of IT folks. We often get alerts, sent as emails usually, to our phones and other devices, but what if we had a Twitter group account for our systems? Or each a separate one for each system? The system could post a message out to it's account that would be forwarded via SMS to everyone that subscribed. Those on vacation could easily unsubscribe, but everyone else would get the message. Whoever was able to respond could send a message to their account noting their desire to work on the issue and everyone subscribed would get that message and go on about their work.

Is this easier than multiple mailboxes? In some ways I think it is, it's easier and more reliable. SMS is available in many places that data connections cannot be made, it's simple, it's a simple posting which is simpler than checking or managing multiple mailboxes, and it's cheap.

I'm not sure I want my servers posting messages out on the Internet in a public place, but this could be a place where Twitter could make "private" accounts, letting us securely exchange messages among a group of employees in a company. That alone might make them a profitable company.

There are a lot of Web 2.0 and social networking ideas that I question and Twitter has been one of them, but with this one script, it makes me rethink their usefulness a little. I wonder how many other ways that we could reuse some of these new tools in our jobs.

Steve Jones

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