Thursday, March 25, 2010

A Year on Twitter

I was a late-comer to twitter, one of the horde that joined in 2009. I was in a similar fashion a late-comer to blogs. When blogging started picking up, it was mostly painted as individuals exposing the equivalent of personal diary entries to the whole world. This was not something I had any interest in, but it eventually became apparent that people were blogging about topics of interest, including business and systems and methods and so on. Many of these people were authors of note on topics of direct interest to me. After seeing some of these, and realizing how easy it was, I started this very blog. It may or may not have have reached an audience of any size or import, but I have enjoyed it as an outlet for my thoughts and opinions on Business Analysis.

Then came Twitter, also first painted as people's random thoughts or status, the famous "what I just had for lunch" type of tweets; as before,this did not interest me. Then at the beginning of 2009, I saw some articles (and probably blog posts!) about how this odd Twitter thing might actually be useful, to busineses for example. I also saw on blogs I read the appearance of "follow me on Twitter" announcements. So I joined and started following some of these people. I have a been long-time user of Google Alerts to find things of interest to me, but I found I was getting links to things from Twitter that Google didn't pick up. It is apparent that following someone because of one interest may lead to other unexpected content. This is what I have found Twitter most useful for. People will tweet when they have a new blog post, and then tweet links to other things of interest.

I then discovered all the Twitter apps that tell you how influential you are and such. One thing they usually consider is if you are engaging with other tweeters in conversations, as opposed to just tweeting your own stuff all the time. I would say that of about the 300 people I follow, I do have conversations with about a dozen or so people, mainly other BAs and Systems folks.

The interesting thing is when you have a (probably one time) conversation with a more famous person. They may be tweet somethinng or even ask a question, which spurs me to reply. Most times the replies are not returned, but once in a while they are, which is oddly gratifying; recent folks I have conversed with are comedienne Elayne Boosler, and Peter Travers, movie critic at Rolling Stone. Why does this seem special? I guess it is like getting 15 seconds of fame (a whole 15 minutes of fame being so 20th century).

After a year, I guess what may be most surprising to me is that I have acquired over 500 followers... I mean, I think I have some interesting or funny things to say on occasion, and I do my share of re-tweeting, and I do tweet when I posted on this blog, or over at ITWorld Canada. Yet it does astound me that this has led to me to slowly but surely getting more and more followers. I don't expect I will ever have thousands and thousands, but actually getting into the hundreds was something I wasn't expecting a year ago.

Sure, I have used various apps to analyze who is following me. It is true that many are automated follows, like when I tweeted about the Toronto Blue Jays one day, their twitter account started following me. Then their is always the occasional email about a new follower who turns out to have been suspended for "suspicious activity". But there are some people following me I just don't understand, like all those people who describe themselves as on-line marketing experts.

However, there remains a group of people that number in the hundreds who found me somehow and decided "yeah, I will follow this guy." So, if you fair reader are one of those people, thanks a lot.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Great product for requirements sessions, why is it so hard to find?

The product is whiteboard sheets. They come on a roll, you rip one off and stick it to almost any wall surface, and it clings. You then write on it like a whiteboard, then the ink will dry permanently after a few minutes.

I and my peers use them in requirements discovery sessions. The walls fill up over time, so you can look at anything you have produced. The fact that the ink dries allows you to take them away and use them later for writing up results, and to keep as a record.

These are not a common item. Each new client we work with invariably says they have never seen them before. Our organization gets them from a supplier in Germany, the product packaging says Leitz.

Office Depot shows up as a source when you do a web search, and Amazon too, but actually finding them on their sites is difficult. Right now Amazon says they don't have any and don't know when they will.

If you look for them, don't confuse them with "instant whiteboards"; these are thick sheets that cling to a wall, but are erasable at any time, like a hard whiteboard.

But finding them is worth the effort, and I hope more people using them will make them easier to find.

About Me

Ontario, Canada
I have been an IT Business Analyst for 25 years, so I must have learned something. Also been on a lot of projects, which I have distilled into the book "Cascade": follow the link to the right to see more.