I follow a few people on Twitter. A few people follow me on Twitter.
A number of websites have engaged their readers in debates about the usefulness of Twitter (and other social media) to engineers. In general, these debates are talking about hardware engineers. A lot of software engineers pretty much live on the Internet and will embrace or invent any new thing.
The overwhelming majority of the responses that I’ve read put Twitter in the class of “a waste of time.” Not everyone feels that way, but there’s quite a few who do. I’m still in study mode. I can see how it can take up a lot of time if you don’t exercise some self-control and it has a weird, semi-voyeuristic aspect.
If I’m following, person A and person B, I’ll see any conversation they are having. Most discussions are undertaken with that in mind, but some start to lean toward the personal side. Now, if person C gets in the conversation with one or both of A and B, and I’m not following C, I end up seeing part of the conversation. It’s a bit like listening to someone talk on the phone and hearing only their side. It’s odd.
It can lead to interesting activity though. Recently, one tweeter, Jeri (twitter.com/jeriellsworth) suggested a design contest centered around the old stalwart 555 timer. Chris (twitter.com/Chris_Gammell) picked up the ball with her and in about three days, just over Twitter, they organized it, other tweeters chimed in, sponsors offered prize money and they’ve set up a website for it. Fascinating.
If you’re on Twitter, search for “555contest” to see the conversation in action. In any case, if you’re a fan of the now 368 year old 555 timer, you might want to dig into the recesses of your brain for entry ideas. You can also follow Screaming Circuits on Twitter at “twitter.com/pcbassembly” and see for yourself if it’s useful or too loaded with mindless drivel.