Ajarn Mark Caldwell Blog

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Twitter Revisited

Last night at the Exhibitor Reception at the Summit, Lance Harra said to me, “I thought you gave up on Twitter.”  That was in response to seeing my Twitter ID on my name badge.  Some of you may recall that last year, just before the PASS conference, I jumped on the Twitter bandwagon to play with it during the event.  Shortly thereafter, I jumped back off.  Well, this year, again shortly before the Summit, I started getting interested again.  So, here are a few things I thought I’d share to clear the air…

I learned a few tricks to make my use of Twitter a tiny bit more efficient, like using TweetDeck to follow not just a bunch of individuals, but a particular topic like the #sqlpass conversation.  And it has been interesting to meet here at the conference some of the folks that I only knew as Twitter IDs.  But I still believe that it is a huge distraction, and if I walked around my office and saw a twitter tool up on my developers screens more than a couple of times in the day, I would have serious concerns about whether they were getting anything productive done.  I even had to stop myself yesterday in one of the breakout sessions.  I had arrived early and popped open TweetDeck to see what was current, and then the session started and I thought I’d take some notes the old-fashioned way, plus make a few tweets about it.  A few minutes into that little experiment, I found that I kept getting drawn into what other people were tweeting about the sessions they were sitting in, and not paying attention to the guy who I had, essentially, paid money to come hear.  So I shut the notebook lid and stayed with pen and paper.

I talked with Joe Webb last night about this and about how he uses Twitter.  Not to put words in his mouth, but he did make an analogy to email in that it is easy to get sucked-in to responding to an email just because it is there and it is “now” and not necessarily because it is important.  But Joe is also doing an interesting experiment this year where he is using Twitter as a note-taking tool, and also consolidating some of those tweets into a blog post.  I’ll be curious to hear what his opinion of that approach is at the end of the week.

On the other hand, Twitter turned into a great little tool during one of the sessions I attended yesterday.  A question came up about metrics to decide which indexes to rebuild/reorganize, and the speaker stated an opinion that appeared to contradict a previous “Microsoft recommendation”.  One of the members of the audience sent a quick tweet to Paul Randal who happened to be on at the time, and a clarifying answer came back immediately and was able to be shared with everyone in the room in just minutes.  So that was a great use.

So where does that leave us?  Well, as Paul Randal is fond of saying, “It depends.”  There are certainly some ways to take advantage of this technology for good.  And there is the dark side where it is really easy to blow off hours and hours of time.  It’s up to you to decide how to use it for yourself, but as for me, don’t expect to see me much during normal business hours outside of special events like the Summit.