Blog, tweet and network, are not the name of my solicitors and they certainly weren't something I'd have admitted to five years ago. But now they are essential part of my professional life. Nigel Paine's excellent piece in Training Zone invoking the benefits of Twitter as a professional tool got me thinking about how much I use all these tools today. Even if you are a huge sceptic of Twitter have a read of Nigel's piece. After all a Twitter post is really a micro blog and you're reading this. I've been using this blog, RSS feeds, Twitter, Linkedin, Posterous and Facebook over varying timescales and I notice my understanding and usage evolving over time. I look at my online world in a number of ways. There is knowledge gathering and keeping up to date through the RSS feeds in my Google Reader and from Twitter. I tend to keep Facebook for personal use, but some of that is starting to blur and our new Eden Tree Facebook group seems to indicate that the same thing is happening for a lot of people. Linkedin groups are starting to become interesting places for not just professional networking, but also for user communities where I can post questions and take part in a professional dialogue. I occasionally use Posterous for personal blogs and Twitter sort of bridges both worlds and is as Nigel says another great way of conducting a conversation. David Smith of InSynctraining was part of the ASTD UK group at the ASTD conference in Chicago in May and when we came to do a review of our learning from the event he looked at the Twitter feed and found it a rich source of information. Personally, I find I get distracted when listening to a good speaker, if I stop listening to tweet. It's not just my inability to really listen and type at the same time, but the interruption to my thinking that I find difficult. I've yet to do a presentation where I can see the Twitter back feed on a screen as I speak, as opposed to reading it after the event. So I'm not sure how I'd handle that. What I have found is that it is more difficult to read an audience which is twittering as you present. There is less eye contact and it can be disconcerting to see someone grab their phone or laptop and start tweeting. Overall, I find it slightly harder to read the room and I'm not actually sure it is a good thing. And yet I've found that I like to use my iPad to capture notes at events, I love the Mindmeister app for this. Somehow note taking doesn't seem to be as distracting as sending a tweet. My preference now is to turn this Mindmap into a quick note about the presentation and post it online after the event. In terms of reading and consuming the mountains of content that I invite to be pushed at me through various RSS feeds, blogs and Twitter the only thing I need to remember is not to feel guilty about not reading it. It's my choice. So after a few years of using these tools I'm better networked and better informed than I could possibly be without them. I've made contact with countless people that I wouldn't have without these tools and most importantly collaborated with them (online presentations, recorded videos, developed new ideas and articles) and learnt from them in ways that have really helped me and GoodPractice. On Twitter you'll find
Nigel Paine @ http://twitter.com/ebase
David Smith @ http://twitter.com/InSyncEU
Peter Casebow @ http://twitter.com/petercasebow