Dan Wood: The Eponymous Weblog (Archives)

Dan Wood Dan Wood is co-owner of Karelia Software, creating programs for the Macintosh computer. He is the father of two kids, lives in the Bay Area of California USA, and prefers bicycles to cars. This site is his older weblog, which mostly covers geeky topics like Macs and Mac Programming. Go visit the current blog here.

Useful Tidbits and Egotistical Musings from Dan Wood

Categories: Business · Mac OS X · Cocoa Programming · General · All Categories

Wed, 16 Jul 2008

Twitter causes blogging slowdown but enhances community

I've tried to post useful postings here on my personal blog, especially when it comes to topics of Mac software development. But it's really only the long essay that makes it here. When I have a small tidbit, I just post it on Twitter.

(I'm danwood on Twitter, not surprisingly.)

Regarding Twitter, Tim Ferriss of Four Hour Work Week fame said on his blog:

If you don’t yet use Twitter, don’t start. It’s pointless e-mail on steroids.

Well, I agree to a point; I mostly disagree, especially if you are an "indie" software developer and you want a sense of community and a network of people you can bounce things off of. Twitter has been called "the world's largest water cooler" and I think that's about right. If I am heads-down trying to work and concentrate, I turn it off. But if I'm doing my usual batch of smaller tasks, including waiting for compiles to finish, it's nice to have a connection with the outside world of other independent software developers, along with a few random friends and acquaintances who are also on Twitter.

Some downright useful abilities of Twitter and a good community are:

  • Share a handy tip that you've discovered about development, Unix, etc.
  • Ask a quick technical question or advice
  • Get feedback for an idea you have
  • Inform people where you are, or where you are going, to possibly meet up in person
  • Gripe about the NDA that is still in place for iPhone development

OK, not everything is useful that gets tweeted, and it's possible to waste time by letting yourself get sucked into every URL of that funny new video on YouTube. Still, that's part of the charm because you get a chance to "know" the people you follow just a bit.

(The limited bandwidth and limited refresh rate is actually a positive; it keeps you from getting sucked in to spend too much time. When I was doing a lot of work in the internals of WebKit, I "hung out" at the #webkit IRC channel. Great people, but there was just too much chatter going by to be able to casually keep up with. Twitter's amount is just about right.)

So if there is a community happening in the Twitterverse, as there is with Indie Mac development, check out Twitter and start following people you know or find interesting. Reply with useful insight (prefixing a tweet with @username posts a public followup), and your network will grow if you have interesting things to say.

And if you work in an office and there are already enough people around you to distract you and help you, don't bother with it.