There was a time when there wasn’t Twitter. There was a whole lot of time in my life before Twitter. In the time since I “got” Twitter, I’ve changed in ways that can not be undone.
Before Twitter, I was a pretty successful learning technologist. I used and evangelized Flash. In a time before you could make a career in ActionScript, my career was ActionScript.
I liked social media. I thought a lot about the implications social media could have on a broader definition of E-Learning. I blogged a lot. I tried lots of betas. If you asked any peers of mine to describe me, they would probably tell you that I was a talented content developer. I never felt comfortable with the designation, but it made sense. I developed content. Lots of content. I was good at it: I had efficiency and preternatural talent for architecture of static and dynamic content. I could focus my attention and teach myself new tools, languages, technologies at lighting pace.
What am I now, after Twitter? Am I still a developer? I don’t write code with any frequency, so much as manipulate code as a need arises. I don’t coach best practices in authoring tools much, even though there’s much I could share. All the things I’ve been known and notable for are not the things I do now. I don’t manage people. I don’t formally lead people.
What Twitter has singularly enabled for me, that no other tool before it has done quite so well, is firstly to connect me to people — lots of people — very much like me in life experiences, professional drive, sense of purpose, sense of humor, etc. That awareness changed me — because before when faced with a challenge, I’d have no recourse but to tackle some kinds of challenges by myself. Once I had a network aligned by multiple shared affinities, I could crowdsource challenge analyis, collect insights and respond with multiple levels of next-actions rather than tackle everything head-on by myself. I became a networked thinker.
Since Twitter, I hardly use Google Reader or any other RSS aggregator to find links worth knowing. I now solely rely on my networks to supply me with the information that relevant, and since my networks are pretty tightly aligned to my collective interests, my information is filtered with an appropriate mix tailored to me: news, a lot of learning information, some general design discoveries and a dash here and there of irreverent humor, with suggestions for new music worth checking out. I have a personalized web.
I’ve sat in now on probably 80 different conferences in the last year. I physically attended less than ten. The context generated by my network as they tweet their conference activities has accelerated my professional growth. I don’t pretend to have a mastery of virtual world creation, user experience design, government transparency efforts or even Flash and Flex anymore — but I have a really good bead on what the buzz is, what the issues are, why things that are going on in these areas are relevant to my work and my life and who I can reach out to if I need more information — not just who I can email; who will reply back with the exact piece of information I need. I can situate myself anywhere.
Twitter was a change for me. As a result of having taken to the tool, I am now changed as a professional. I am changed in how I think. I am changed in how I work. I am changed in how I seek, absorb and process many kinds of information.
There will be another new tool, probably sometime soon given how rapidly things change. I wonder how I will change as a result. I wonder about how people collaborating together, becoming aware of one another, witnessing each other’s changes can accerlate their alignment, share their goals and produce — even innovate — more richly; with more acceleration; with more impact.
That’s my musing for today…