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Why engineers hate twitter

Karen Field
5/13/2010 03:00 AM EDT

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pixies
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re: Why engineers hate twitter
pixies   6/29/2010 8:15:36 PM
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I do not like Twitter at all, and any social networking sites for that matter. They are a huge waste of people's time and society's resources.

Dr. Phil
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Dr. Phil   7/1/2010 5:33:05 PM
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I agree. I could care less. A waste of time. Reminds me of a morning clinical report on how many times the patient "spit" last night. Another distraction from progress.

yalanand
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yalanand   7/2/2010 9:04:38 AM
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I dont agree with this article. Twitter is a great way to keep in touch, to keep you posted about new updates. I have many engineer friends who are die hard fans of Twitter and use the tool extensively.

old account Frank Eory
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old account Frank Eory   7/6/2010 7:02:09 PM
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Perhaps the engineers who don't like Twitter have not been exposed to it's use as a business and marketing tool. It's a great way to get updates from companies that are of interest to you. The key is not to follow too many entities, to avoid information overload.

ylshih
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ylshih   7/8/2010 8:53:13 PM
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Twitter does convey information, but with a relatively low SNR; it just takes a lot more processing power to extract the data, like spread spectrum. With so many information sources, why go to a medium that takes so much pre-selection or filtering to get useful data?

ChakC
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ChakC   8/4/2010 8:31:11 AM
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I agree with you Shih. The SNR is pretty low. If the person is sending out too much noise, we can decide not to follow him. I think before we can make good use of Twitter, we need to know how to choose who we should follow. I still think Twitter is useful.

kfield
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re: Why engineers hate twitter
kfield   7/9/2010 11:38:31 AM
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Thanks for your comments. The idea for the article came out of a recent focus group I conducted with readers of EE Times. During the discussion, I was surprised by the strong negative reaction to Twitter. No other social media tool generated such a forceful response, and I wanted to explore what it was about Twitter that triggered this reaction. I think the spontaneous rejection of the notion of Twitter by so many engineers means that this community may well be among the last to reasonably evaluate the tool's utility. This is not to say that Twitter is or isn't useful; but it does mean that, with nothing more than a visceral reaction, some engineers are going to need some serious convincing to even give it a try.

Bob Lacovara
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Bob Lacovara   7/14/2010 5:27:15 PM
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Karen, engineers who come across a useful new tool usually knock someone over to get to it. If an engineer gets the suspicion that a tool, such as Twitter, is likely to be yet another time sink, they are hardly going to jump to try it: trials take time as well. Maybe Twitter, at least to most engineers, just isn't useful. As has been pointed out, engineers have real work to do, and need to bring concentrated blocks of time to the work. Twitter isn't going to help them do that all that well. Oh, since anyone reading this is wondering, I've only seen Twitter on my daughter's machine myself, but that was enough to give it a fast pass...

UIeye
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UIeye   7/9/2010 5:26:18 PM
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I for one find it hard to be constantly interrupted unless the matter is urgent and agree that to some degree reading random thoughts is a bit of a waste of time, unless one is so bored and non productive. In meditation we strive to let those thoughts we find going through our minds just go. Why have everyone else's thoughts go running in my mind unless they are very stimulating or engaging to what I am involved in ...at that moment.

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DrQuine   7/9/2010 5:46:51 PM
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Some corporations use Yammer (Twitter within the enterprise) as an internal communication tool. With peer pressure to have relevant messages, it can be a great way to learn about what is happening in other parts of the business and to enable insights to be drawn from individuals outside a departmental silo. Checking the yams ("tweets") on a daily basis seems to work best; otherwise the continuous interruptions prevent the kind of deep focus on problem solving that characterizes successful productive professionals.

Charles.Desassure
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re: Why engineers hate twitter
Charles.Desassure   7/9/2010 11:28:26 PM
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Thanks for the comment. I thoroughly understand both the engineers and other reader’s point of view. Twitter is a very popular social networking tool and it is a good way to communicate. But engineers may already have an effective method in place to communicate, so why change? It is just like in the field of education at the college level where I work, there are many educators who teach a subject and use Twitter within the classroom. Some educators feel that it helps engage the student and help them better communicate with each other. Whereas there are other educators that teach a subject and they do not feel that Twitter is effective within their classroom because they already have many assessment teaching methods that are proven and help students achieve their Student Learning Outcomes of the subject. My point is that Twitter is a good and very popular tool, but it is not a tool that may be effective for all situations. I strongly agree that time is a major factor according to a few people that I have communicated with to one of the reasons that they don’t use Twitter. Finally, many companies may have policies against using social networking tools in the workplace too. All of these may be contributing factors to why engineers (and many others) do not use Twitter.

suckme
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suckme   7/12/2010 4:10:18 PM
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The reason engineers don't like it is because it's lame. Engineers work very hard to create complicated things. Then some idiot gets rich off the idea of telling someone you just ate lunch. It's lame and hopefully dies soon. Boring.

JMWilliams
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JMWilliams   7/12/2010 5:21:29 PM
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Don't tell me! Y'all are saying that Twitter is for bird-brains?

Bob Virkus
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Bob Virkus   7/12/2010 8:11:56 PM
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I'll agree with most engineers that it seems silly. But during the wild fires in California a couple of years ago. Homeowners provided firefighters with up-to-the minute information where the fires were. I gained a little respect. Overall, it is ust another tool; a box of rain, if you will.

krwada
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krwada   7/12/2010 9:29:07 PM
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Twitter? Meh! However, I wonder how many here have used LinkedIn, or another such 'business' networking site? For are we not all human? Perhaps ... or maybe being an engineer lifts us up above all the others? It is no wonder that we are perceived with some dorkiness quotient ... we, as a group tend to wear the dork meter in prominent display. Just saying ... I admit, I am one of those engineers.

ishack1956
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ishack1956   7/14/2010 11:04:01 AM
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I've tried twitter, facebook and a number of other social networking sites - only to find them huge time sinks. I've got real work to do for the most part and don't have time to follow someone's twits.

Piano
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Piano   7/14/2010 3:23:51 PM
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Todd Seirer is the man, but he is also in marketing. Twitter can be a good business tool, but I think thats where it dies. For big conferences it is simply amazing. For anything after that, for the normal person, it isn't. I think Twitter is a fad very much in the form of myspace that people don't see enough value in, because frankly, there isn't enough value to go around.

toddsierer
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toddsierer   7/15/2010 3:05:34 PM
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You're the man! (or woman!) Twitter is just one way to communicate with people. Like with any other form of communication, people will stop listening if you don't have anything valuable to say. There's plenty of marketing noise out there, but since I follow only people that I want to hear from, my SNR is super high. Businesses struggle with Twitter because all they really want to do is sell stuff. I use Twitter to connect with engineers and talk about our lifestyle...and if by some extension engineers associate me with National Instruments, then it's a slight win for my company's "geek cred." That being said, if you ever catch me blatantly plugging our products, you are welcome to seek me out and punch me in the neck.

soheilm1
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soheilm1   7/14/2010 10:57:48 PM
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I like and use Twitter daily. I have been able to receive valuable and helpful information and content on topics of interest from the people I follow. I have also been able to find relative conversations that I normally do not find on Google search.

Eric.Mantion
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Eric.Mantion   7/15/2010 2:08:40 AM
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Great story Karen. Totally agree on the data, but I think @ylshih hit the nail on the head that it is about poor SNR. So, I posted a response that might help some Engineers dial up the SNR & really get something out of it: http://j.mp/EngLove4Twitter

old account Frank Eory
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old account Frank Eory   7/16/2010 12:16:22 AM
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Awesome tweet Eric. I agree with your 3 reasons engineers will eventually like Twitter, and I liked your 6 simple steps to get started. I will check out the list of tweeps when I have time, but meanwhile it's good to know that Meego will be released in October. Thanks again for the high SNR tweet!

WSOCT
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WSOCT   7/15/2010 2:20:20 PM
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Twitter is one of those tools that "should" be useful, but more times than not it isn't. The firefighter story is a good example of how it can be useful and should be used, but most of the public uses it to create noise. I think two of the reasons it is so popular is that 1) nearly instant feedback and 2) limited text. Both play to your typical American stereotype 1) instant gratification (I want it now) and 2) Lazy.

WSOCT
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WSOCT   7/15/2010 2:25:15 PM
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What should concern is that many, if not all, of the cable news networks spend an inordinate amount of time reporting tweats and using them as the main substance of their news stories. They are no longer news channels, but rather public opinion channels. We are hard pressed to find any substantive news anymore - especially on TV.

absoluteone
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absoluteone   7/18/2010 4:59:26 PM
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I suspect Twitter doesn't have much use for most of the engineers that posted either. Wake up! Think of all the engineering jobs related to sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn that WON'T be hiring you because you're too busy watching the world pass you by.

phoenixdave
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phoenixdave   7/18/2010 10:23:05 PM
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Well let's think of a few examples of how engineers might utilize Twitter in their professional lives. What if you were part of a design team and during your assigned task found a critical data error or glitch that might affect the work of other team members, so you needed to get the information to ALL of them as quickly as possible? Obviously you could use a mass email, but if you are like many engineers you receive so many emails each day that you only check them when necessary. If you had a Twitter design project group and instant notification via a cellphone alert you would likely receive the message much more quickly, potentially saving a lot of time and rework. Any other ideas???

antiquus
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antiquus   7/20/2010 12:16:32 AM
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@phoenixdave -- the ability to target your audience is very important, so I would disagree with you. For example, the word "problem" when used by an engineer usually becomes "crisis" to the marketing guy. The things I might tweet to my technical colleagues would not be appropriate for my sales and marketing teammates, especially if they were closely tied to the customer or outside world. Imagine, for example, that BP engineers tweeted all their idea proposals for plugging that well. Not only would the world have a field day picking them apart, but there would be legal ramifications for rejecting the "correct" answer that was submitted in the general tweeting of new ideas, or if the idea that was perceived as "best" in the monday-morning analysis. You might as well tie your engineers' EKG readouts to your stock price and legal department. Tweeting for engineers is too much risk, and companies should avoid it. The world is too judgmental.

phoenixdave
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phoenixdave   7/20/2010 6:29:36 AM
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antiquus --- I agree that the target audience is very important, so what if you could include ONLY your design team in the tweet, and not anyone who wants to receive the tweet (in essence having a focused twitter group not accessible to anyone else). I'm not actually a fan of the whole twitter concept myself, just throwing out some ideas on how it might be of use to engineers. Letting the entire world have access to your tweets I believe is definitely be a bad idea, and not what I was suggesting.

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Robotics Developer   7/21/2010 10:58:06 PM
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Currently I do not have the time to Twitter or Facebook as most of my day is spent working at a job (for pay). When I am not at work I use the time to catch up on personal emails, my family, news, and learning the next tool/technology that I will need. I can see that Twitter could be useful but it seems too much like High School kids communication instead of meaningful dialog. Granted I am not on Twitter or Facebook and steadfastly refuse to join. I have also seen unintended consequences with using Facebook/Twitter: a year ago there was a major event in a family that we were close to; friends of theirs learned early on of the situation and posted it online (one of the kids) only to find out that many of the relatives had not been called by the family. They found out about their family's tragedy from their kids online Facebook/Tweets instead of the parents. Very hard way to learn about something so personal. So, as you can imagine I am not a fan (sorry!).

dczh716
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dczh716   7/22/2010 4:43:21 PM
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Since I don't have a "smart Phone" I guess none of these networks will work for me. I have not used them, nor do I plan to in the future. I have no reason/incentive to. I can't keep up with three email accounts which are overburdened with subscribed newsletters and mail. How would anyone keep up with such things as social networks as well?

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ttt3   7/24/2010 4:52:30 AM
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I have to say myself and my friends use twitter for our personal lives (i.e. tweeting interesting things, especially photos, that you see throughout the course of your day). I don't use twitter a whole lot professionally although I do see the utility in such. As an engineer in their late 20s, what I see is that a majority of the 40+ (or even 35+) demographic is slow to realize the revolution that is social networking and smartphones. They'll come around.

phoenixdave
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phoenixdave   7/26/2010 1:48:01 PM
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@ttt3 -- "As an engineer in their late 20s, what I see is that a majority of the 40+ (or even 35+) demographic is slow to realize the revolution that is social networking and smartphones. They'll come around." Interesting perception, but I don't think this is limited to engineers. The demographic differences for almost all new technology utilization across the entire population has always seemed to follow this trend. I guess if anything I would expect that engineers would be more accepting of new technology given their role in creating it. Perhaps engineers are so busy creating the next new technology that they don't have time to utilize what they've created? Or maybe lack of utilization is based on lack of need. From my experience Linkedin (a "relatively" new business networking community) is very popular with the engineering community (and many others).

KB3001
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re: Why engineers hate twitter
KB3001   7/25/2010 10:24:58 PM
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Should we surmise that Engineers are not very sociable? :o)

toddsierer
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toddsierer   7/28/2010 2:41:09 AM
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We're totally social! Just look at all these comments!!! The fact that we're commenting on the bottom of a static article instead of via Twitter is because we've become familiar with an old form of e-conversation, but we're scared to try a new venue because it's over-crowded with idiots (read: non-engineers). C'mon, tweet at me @engineeringmind...I dare you. Let's take back the Internet since we're the ones that invented it (shut up, Al Gore)!!!

Niel_M
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Niel_M   7/29/2010 4:43:40 AM
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True very true..

osetech
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osetech   7/31/2010 9:09:46 PM
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Twitter is basically a good marketing tool. One way to market a product like a movie is by word-of-mouth. Oftentimes for many people the decision on whether or not to buy a product depends on what the going, prevailing opinion is. A value is a Picasso painting isn't in the oil and painting it made of; it is the opinion of the certain groups of people. So, you are interested in getting or receiving that opinion about a product (ASAP) twitter would fit that bill as an electronic "word of mouth". Most engineers don't market anything.

t.alex
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t.alex   8/1/2010 3:14:21 AM
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I hardly use twitter but believe it is a good marketing tools. New products/solution can be broadcasted easily.

lancechris
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re: Why engineers hate twitter
lancechris   8/3/2010 2:23:25 AM
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hI, Oh really?so maybe they find another field to enjoy his life and satisfy his needs thats why they got bored of using it.Well it was depend upon the situation if you want that stuff you will not get bored. Regards, lance http://gamegoldreview.com/

N Anand Kumar
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re: Why engineers hate twitter
N Anand Kumar   8/3/2010 9:57:51 AM
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I don't like

AndreaElisabeth
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AndreaElisabeth   8/4/2010 12:28:09 PM
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Maybe this is special for US? Here in Europe within the tech tweet world I met many active tweeting e.g. @experidesk @clooneyandbean (Thomas Fries) @reinergoetzen and many others greetings from @minamnanofutures and @nanofutures

Karen Bartleson
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Karen Bartleson   8/6/2010 5:38:39 PM
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I'm an engineer and I absolutely love Twitter. I use it every day. It's a powerful communication channel that helps me constantly with my work and outside activities. I know quite a few other engineers who love it, too. We're capitalizing on technology that we engineers invented after all. Further, I'm told that percentage-wise more engineers use Twitter than the general public.

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