This is a Business Blog. Should I Link to My Twitter? (Part 1)

24Oct08

This simple, personal (and yes, self-absorbed) question has some pretty serious social-media dimensions. I’m not just navel-gazing! Let me explain.

The ascendence of social media has brought the private and business lives of individuals into increasing contact. In the past, appropriate behavior at the office and behavior (appropriate or otherwise) in one’s personal life was easily segmented. You answered “This is Steve” on the office phone, you answered “Hiyo!” on your home phone. You wore a tie at the office, you danced on the tables on a Saturday night. Regulating the appropriateness of one’s behavior was pretty easy: it’s a synchronous activity, actively tuned at all times to the context of who you’re with and the situation at hand.

Asynchronous social media changes all that. Your funny, but, shall we say, slightly off-color Facebook status is there in perpetuity, just waiting to be discovered by someone from a different context in your life. Ask any of the defrocked Miss New Jerseys or Miss Nevadas about those party photos on MySpace. They may be beauty queens, but they’re smart enough not to shotgun beers during the pageant’s Q&A portion. But the scandalous photos, asynchronously, come back to haunt. Do they wish they could take it back? Sure. But, being humans, they were only considering the appropriateness of their behavior to the synchronous context.

Okay, back to me. So, on the “About” page of this here blog, you’ll find links to my LinkedIn, Facebook, del.icio.us, my portfolio, and Twitter. LinkedIn is solidly business-appropriate, and del.icio.us is mostly design / business (and anyway, I can mark links as “private”). Facebook is mostly friends and thus personal (I do have one connection from a client, which i accepted after much hand-wringing). I could easily un-link Facebook, I suppose.

Twitter’s harder. I post personal things, but also business thoughts, design criticism, promos for this blog, and whatnot to Twitter. Also, Twitter by its nature should resemble a stream-of-consciousness feed of what I’m thinking. I find it difficult to consistently apply a perfect “appropriateness” filter to Twitter. If I want to comment on a UI design, I will. If I want to quote a song lyric, I will. If I want to say something mean about Joe the Plumber, I will (and have, in rather colorful terms).

The problem is that, eventually, someone from the business side of my life will wander over to my Twitter and see something they don’t like. The ramifications could range from mild, unexpressed displeasure to a police escort from the office….who knows? The point is, what seemed synchronously appropriate to me became inappropriate when encountered asynchronously by another human in my life.

Okay, that’s the lay of the land. In the next post, I’ll dig deeper into this issue of the bleed between business and personal in social media. Specifically, I’ll look further at how the enterprise approaches social media and its behavioral aspects, and I’ll examine some technical/feature approaches to regulating behavior, and the difficulties those technologies have with regards to how people behave in synchronous / asynchronous contexts. Let me know if there’s anything else you think I should cover!

I’ll leave Twitter linked, for now.

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One Response to “This is a Business Blog. Should I Link to My Twitter? (Part 1)”


  1. 1 Should this blog link to Twitter? (Part 3, last part) « users are humans

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