The Twitter Trial: Part I

Twitter has become securely established as a prominent means of social connectivity. It provides an enabling space for interaction that does not differentiate  individuals by social position, class, race, age, gender, or other differentiating characteristics. Twitter provides a common social space for the famous, the infamous, the corporate giant, the next door neighbour, you and … me?

The benefits of engaging with Twitter are well established but although social pressure prevails, personally I have two main reservations about joining the Tweeting community. First, there is the time factor. The individual actions of reading and sending tweets are by their nature short and quick actions, however, the interruption time also needs to be considered. For example, Marulanda-Carter & Jackson (2012) measured the impact of email interruptions. A task was interrupted by an email requiring a response every 5 minutes. The study found that the average time to handle the email was 116.5 seconds followed by an average recovery time to resume focus on the task of 68 seconds. The cost of the total interruption time therefore needs to be offset against the benefits of Twitter. In addition, there is the danger of procrastination. Few of us are in need of more distractions to divert attention away from the never ending list of things to do.

Second, one of my personal core principles is that you should not speak unless you have something relevant to say; you should not say something just for the sake of saying something. Can Twitter be used whilst staying true to this principle, or will the pressure to tweet to satisfy social expectations take priority?
The underlying question is perhaps, what is the role of Twitter in information management? I am therefore committing to trial the use of Twitter for one month with the aim of exploring this question. Within the trial I commit to sending at least one tweet a day and identify relevant individuals or organizations to follow. I will also keep a log of my activity on Twitter. At the end of the month I will analyse the data collected to:

o   Categorize tweets by their purpose.

o   Define criteria to assess the information content of interactions.

o   Evaluate information content against time invested.

o   Reflect on the role of Twitter in information management.

I will report back my findings in June, but in the meantime you can monitor my progress @MangInforg. If you would like to join in the study to explore how you use Twitter, a copy of the data log I will be using can be downloaded from here Twitter Trial Data Log Sheet

Further Reading: social media is discussed in Chapter 14.

Please use the following to reference this blog post in your own work:
Cox, S. A., (2014), ‘The Twitter Trial: Part I’,  2 May 2014,, [Date accessed: dd:mm:yy]

© 2014 Sharon A Cox