Twitter and critical mass

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jethro's picture

What place does twitter have in a corporate environment? Social networking sites such as facebook is largely banned in corporate workplaces, especially government departments. Most of these places also feel threatened by the idea of instant messaging and suspect that their workers become less productive as a result. And maybe they are right in some circumstances.

twitter-logo Twitter can be abused as can IM and facebook. If all workers are using these “tools” for is to share pics of their weekend parties, and organise their social lives then they are effectively “stealing” time from their employer. And their employer can rightly block that sort of behaviour.

So what is the place of these activities?

At Jethro we actively require our staff to use the Messenger, Skype and Twitter accounts. We actively encourage blogging as way of spreading information about what we do. Our blogs and twitter and messenger use is of course partly about our social lives – after all isn’t that part of life? But the critical mass I referred to in the title relates to when the pay off starts to occur.

Recently the Venturous Australia Report was released to the public. It was initially copyrighted and locked down so it couldn’t be commented on. However it has now been freed up somewhat. Fair use allows me to cut snippets and give credit to the author and then create commentary on them. However there is not yet a single place that this debate can occur in. Submissions close in 4 days for panel members – the timeframe is short – too short. But the debates need to be heard. This document has the potential to be a foundation stone paving the ay into the future for Australian business and the economy. Lets not screw it up by appointing boffins with no real world experience. (No disrespect to boffins intended.)

I had made a number of comments on twitter to Laurel Papworth, aka SilkCharm, who we profiled on the geek girl series recently about this document. Then this week I was followed by John Haining, and then Dr Kristin Alford.

They have been talking about this recommendation from Chapter 10 of the document:

Recommendation 10.2: An advisory committee of web 2.0 practitioners should be established to propose and help steer governments as they experiment with Web 2.0 technologies and ideas. At least five substantial experiments should be established in different areas within two years to be evaluated within three. The Minister for Finance and Deregulation should have carriage of the initiative.

While there are no shortage of “Web 2.0” experts out there, and particularly those I would call leading edge entrepreneurs, people like Chris Saad, Ashley Angell and Darren Rowse there are also plenty of others in the blogosphere who have valid contributions to make. People like Angus Logan and Nick Hodge from Microsoft, who are helping bring the technology that powers this stuff to us, And then there are the think tank people (like Kristin’s firm Bridge 8) who have explored the concepts of Web 2.0, Enterprise 2.0, and the shifting sand that social networks play in the ever growing information age.


As the information age gathers momentum countries like Australia are rapidly shifting employment into the service provision industries away from manufacturing and food gathering. See the chart  above showing the expanding sector of Finance, Property and Business Services. How we will become a “Venturous” nation will depend on the environment we create for our workers – and particularly the Y generation people as they come through into the workplace. They are ideally situated to make this happen. Multitasking, widely networked and online connected. Lets make sure that government departments and corporates are encouraged through the use of grants, R&D tax concessions and even “boffin” run university and think tank studies that can explore the relationships, the diversity and the richness that is a connected interverse ( I just made that word up!) How else would I have ever have “met” these people, I met Angus and Nick in real life, Nick through the internet first and Angus from a Microsoft conference but most of the people I follow on twitter I have never met., Some of my staff I have never met! Many of my clients I have never met in real life. Many I meet online and then connect with in real life.

I am a small business. No bones about that. Under $1M turnover so far, though well into 6 figures. I am in a zone for small business that needs help from the government. I want to employ more people, but the employment rules make that hard. I want to spend more time and money on research, I already do personally – about 25% of my time is research. I actively require my staff to spend time on research and pay them to do so. Government assistance in that would be great!. I hope my little voice can be heard on a national stage, represented by the people on the panel.


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John Haining's picture

Hey jethro, a timely post

Hey jethro, a timely post given how quickly Australian twitter traffic is growing, it's great to see what you can find by searching watching the stream. We require staff to have skype (even though usage is varied) and definitely won't block myspace, facebook or linkedin ( Getting people to use tools that help (such as our internal wikis and blogs) is hard. Twitter is optional.

I think the best thing you can do is make sure you actually submit in response to the Venturous Australia Report. Point out that their failure to engage and discuss this area with web and enterprise entrepreneurs means that what they have received from corporates was slanted.

Also, that only about 350 responses from industry isn't good - it's appalling.

There is a simple web form for feedback. You can shoot of a paragraph or two into the ether and feel some sense of satisfaction that you responded.

Let's keep the conversation going :)

(Oh, and can you add code to supply the http to the Homepage box on your comment form!!!)

Kristin Alford's picture

Great points and for me

Great points and for me really raises the issues of how the innovation system can provide the right environment for these connections (and subsequent innovation) to happen. Perhaps add 'venturous', 'national innovation review' and/or 'nis' to your tags so it will get picked up here - a good aggregated summary of the web commentary on Venturous Australia that we can all draw on.

jethro's picture

Thanks John and Kristin i'm

Thanks John and Kristin
i'm looking into the http thing

Anonymous's picture

Wow. I just realized if my

Wow. I just realized if my company used twitter, facebook and IM extensively, we wouldn't need the dreaded daily huddles. Thanks for helping me see this, though this insight probably won't get anywhere with my management :(