Sunday, October 19, 2008

Is Twitter a useful enterprise 2.0 application?

Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger published their thoughts on Situated Learning "Legitimate peripheral participation" in 1991. A rather theoretical book on how people evolve from newcomers to key members of communities of practice. I remember an example of Etienne:

think of taxidrivers and their radio network. On the radio they get calls from the station and their colleagues. They do not listen actively to the radio, but they catch messages that might be of their interest. Some colleague mentioning a traffic jam, some other problem that they may circumnavigate, et cetera. They are in peripheral mode. When something occurs that might be of interest to other colleagues, they send a message to all others listening. Hence, they become active and center of the network for a short while.
The same goes for communities of practice. Sometimes you are merely listening, sometimes you jump in the center and participate actively. My perspective on Twitter is that it's the web version (of the radio network) of groups of people with a common interest, or practice. As Twitter states:
"people follow the sources most relevant to them and access information via Twitter as it happens"
If Twitter gets adopted by the business community, meaning adopted as a tool in the context of work and learning in the context of the enterprise, it may well become the means to follow what is going on in the enterprise, without being as disruptive as the "Beep Beep: you've got mail" If you think Twitter is just another gadget keeping employees from working, you're wrong! Twitter is the community radio!

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