A friend of mine, Jon Helmberger, posted on this Facebook status the other day a great quote which really pointed out how some people use technology that is trendy, and not necessarily the most appropriate technology. “If RSS had a cooler name we wouldn't have shenanigans like this…” with the following link: http://tiny.cc/kxALC. In a nutshell, local Minnesota municipalities are posting information, of varying usefulness, on Twitter and Facebook.
I realize it must be hard for organizations that are not on the cutting edge of technology to make decisions about what to pick. For that matter, I have been talking to a lot of developers lately who have trouble keeping up with all the technologies, even from a single vendor like Microsoft. But it is frustrating to see people gravitate to the hot item and try to use it without really figuring out if it is the right technology for the job. I can’t imagine that with the 140 character limit in Twitter, an organization can convey much useful information. If the posts always end up linking to something else, how useful is that? It seems to me that having an RSS feed would be the more appropriate mechanism for conveying this type of information. There are so many tools for reading RSS / ATOM feeds and including them in a page, etc. Sure, a Twitter feed can be read as an RSS feed, but again, the micro format seems like an inappropriate means conveying anything other than the simplest bit of information.
We at Pluralsight have started using these technologies (Facebook and Twitter) to convey information about what is happening with classes, content, etc. Of course we are mostly on the cutting edge of technology and hopefully have some idea of the best way to use these technologies. However, even we are still learning how best to use these technologies and which information is best suited for each format.
What do you think, is Twitter an appropriate tool for this sort of thing? Do enough, or the right, people use it to make it worthwhile? Or are too many people caught up in the hype? What tools do you find work best for you to get information?