How Twitter Can Save The World

Or how the power of conversation can help you out in a bind

Okay so Twitter probably can’t save the world, but on one occasion I was involved with it saved one person’s afternoon. I often hear that “Twitter seems like a huge waste of time” from people who don’t get it or aren’t trying to get it. Here’s my argument why that is completely not the case.

Twitter can be as simple as following an interesting conversation between a few people, providing a link to a great article or video or maybe just some witty banter between friends. A great example of an engaging conversation on Twitter is posted by Adam Cohen (or @adamcohen on Twitter) on his blog called Twitter: The Value of Good Conversation where he takes a snapshot of a conversation between Scott Monty (@ScottMonty) and Christopher Penn (@cspenn) of a look at a big corporation’s struggles in the current economy. I didn’t see the original conversation between Scott and Christopher (although I do follow both of them) – but I found the link to the blog post by Adam on Twitter and really wanted to include it in this blog post as a great example of the quality dialogue on Twitter. I’ll admit reading this post made me want to finish my own blog post I’ve been talking about writing since it happened back in August.

The flip side to an interesting dialogue on Twitter is occasionally just getting stuck in a situation and throwing a question out to the world in the hopes that one of your followers in the Twitter stream might have an answer. So I was inspired to pull a thread of conversation out of Twitter I had with Alex Howard (@digiphile) to illustrate this point:

@digiphile: Where’s a good bikeshop near Boylston Street in Back Bay? Blew a tube hopping over a cobblestone curb. No spare. Whoops
August 28th 5:35PM

@eric_guerin: @digiphile I think the closest bike shop to where you are at is Back Bay Bicycles on Comm Ave
August 28th 5:38PM

@digiphile: @eric_guerin & @skalik Thanks! That might still leave time to get a tube, switch it & return to Cambridge & shower. Twitterific replies.
August 28th 5:40 PM

@eric_guerin: @digiphile Been there…almost the same spot too! Good luck & safe ride home!
August 28th 5:43 PM

@digiphile: FTW: | These guys were awesome. Highly recommended. Self-service tube change, 10min. Loaned me a tool, too. A+
August 28th 6:51 PM

So within the span of 10 minutes Alex was able to find a bike shop less than a block away and get his bike back up and running. All because he asked his followers on Twitter. I used to work less than a block away on the Newbury Street side and frequently used to stop in to Back Bay Bicycles so I was very familiar with the bike shop and their great service. I’ve also been in Alex’ situation with a flat tire and had a LONG walk because I had no way of asking for help on a network like Twitter. By the way Sandy Kalik (@skalik), another of Alex’s followers also answered within those first 10 minutes to help him out.

This is my own experience of how I actually helped someone out of a bind by listening to the ongoing conversation on Twitter. On an everyday basis I get help and ideas from my Twitter followers for simpler things like figuring out a WordPress Plugin. I also give assistance, opinions and ideas where I think I can help people when they ask but this was an example of a time-sensitive situation I was able to help someone else out with.

How about your own experiences? Please consider sharing them either below, on Adam’s post or pingback with a post on your own blog.

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