When it comes to micro-blogging (“MBing” – I just made that up), Twitter started it all – on the web.
Then came Socialcast (which I covered here), and then the much-hyped Yammer, which won the top prize at TechCrunch50.
Now, there is a new kid on the MBing block: Present.ly.
Present.ly and the other MBing applications are all about constant awareness. According to their website, though, Present.ly is not a micro-blogging application, it is a “micro-update communications tool for your company” that provides your employees with “the ability to instantly communicate their current status, ask questions, post media, and more.”
In addition to short, frequent updates, there are other features, such as the ability to attach files (like documents, pictures, and videos). It also supports the most popular internet browsers and mobile devices, including BlackBerry and iPhone. An interesting twist, and one that I think is essential to enterprise adoption, is the ability to form groups – this allows more focused tweets (so that you don’t have to bother the entire firm with your message). Finally, Present.ly is customizable and it offers a Twitter-compatible API so that you can adapt tools you use for Twitter to Present.ly.
Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should do it. So, should you run out and start micro-blogging in your law firm? That’s a very personal and firm-specific question. I noted my doubts about law firm micro-blog adoption and Jevon MacDonald listed some pros and cons of enterprise micro-blogging here and here.
One problem I have with Twitter in the enterprise is focus. It may sound like blasphemy to some faithful Tweeters, but Twitter is distracting. There, I said it. I love Twitter, but I use it when I have a few minutes to kill. I don’t go there to find information that I need. For me, it’s background. It’s the Musak of the Web. As Susan Cartier Liebel said “Tweeting is backslapping and chatting on the street.” (Other Tweeters have chimed in about their take on Twitter here). Yes, I know that in the enterprise, presumably, people won’t tweet about what they had for breakfast or their new shoes, but are we inviting a new form of media overload into the firm? Aren’t email overload and RSS overload enough? I’m probably not alone when I say that I need to concentrate on my work to do a good job. Micro-blog posts from my colleagues every few minutes will not help me concentrate on the task at hand.
Another problem is that the signal to noise ratio on Twitter is low. People are willing to tweet just about anything; but too much of it is just noise. If people need to have the right information at the right time, how does Twitter in the law firm help with that? In my experience, probably a fraction of 1% of the tweets that I skim are actually worth reading. Does micro-blogging have a place in law firms? Maybe. It goes back to the question of: what’s the right tool for the job? If I have a really important question, I probably won’t blast it out on a micro-blog and sit back waiting for responses.
Here is a brief video introduction to Present.ly (listen closely – it’s quick)
Here’s a list of enterprise micro-blogging tools.
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