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I am going to the bathroom…….

by Steve Prentice  |  January 14, 2009  |  2 Comments

More information than you need to know is probably your (perfectly reasonable) response to this title. My apologies for taking such a lavatorial approach to grab your attention. However, it is only a matter of time before that message pops up on Twitter. I have been on Twitter for some time now, as are many of my Gartner colleagues, but I am seriously considering it’s future presence on my desktop. So a colleague of mine on the other side of the world is going for a cup of coffee – do I care? Should I care? How can this snippet of information (or should I say tweet) help me make a better decision, give me keener insight or make better use of my time? 

Of course, it is wrong to blame the technology, it’s the people. Some of my contacts, and even some of my colleagues, are seriously addicted to Twitter (alongside a whole host of other social platforms as well I suspect) and it worries me. I worry about them – should I be caring and help them get a life? Or am I the dysfunctional one, and maybe I should get a life (as you might surmise from recent posts, I’m starting to worry about this question a lot!). How do they find the time? How do they manage to spend all that time on Twitter and the like and still do their job? Are they smarter than me? Is their job to actually be on Twitter all the time? Is that job better, more productive, more valuable than mine? Maybe I need to check in to therapy! Unfortunately, whilst being in therapy appears to be totally normal in the United States (or maybe I’m watching the wrong films), being in therapy in the United Kingdom is not something you would generally want to advertise.

It seems I am not alone. No less a luminary than Robert Scoble (he of “Scobleizer” fame) appears in a recent blog posting to be questioning the value of time spent on things like Twitter versus a more conventional blog. And some of his readers (and let’s face it, he gets a whole heap more than I do!) seem to agree, advising him to return to blogging and describing his time on Twitter and Friendfeed as producing “very forgettable content”. Robert’s post is full of detailed analysis of his time and the benefits (or otherwise) he derives – it is well worth a read.

So the serious question here is this – “Have you seriously weighed the costs and benefits from your social networking activities, and upon consideration will you be changing your behaviour in the coming months?”. I rather suspect I will be, but in the meantime I’m going for a cup of coffee (and then I’ll be going to the bathroom…. but you didn’t really need to know that did you?)

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Category: behaviour  

Tags: addiction  social-networking  twitter  

Stephen Prentice
VP & Gartner Fellow
13 years at Gartner
35 years IT industry

Stephen Prentice is a VP and Gartner Fellow working in the Executive Leadership and Innovation Group (part of CIO Research). He takes a specific interest in emerging trends and the long-term future of technology - looking at the intersection of technology, business and society. Current research interests include... Read Full Bio

Thoughts on I am going to the bathroom…….

  1. Jeffrey Mann says:

    Steve, if you tweet about going to the loo or how much coffee you drink, you’re right. For a contrary view, see

  2. Nick Jones says:

    Don’t worry, this is just a passing challenge that will be fixed by the next generation of technology. In a few years your intelligent clothing, your intelligent home and (tragically), your intelligent sanitary system will collaborate to post all the tweets for you automatically. E.g. “Steve is half way to the bathroom”, “looks like Steve’s been eating…..” But let’s not go too far down that road.

    From the tweet consumption side the burden of reading 100x as many tweets will also be addressed by more intelligent natural language analysis tools. These will subscribe to the tweet torrent and notify watchers only when something unexpected happens. E.g. “Steve is late going to the bathroom today”. This in turn will drive smart advertising that will offer you products and services to address such lateness. The rest is left to your imagination.

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