Last week, I wrote about why programmers should twitter. My article met with heavy criticism at DZone. Today, I intend to answer people’s doubts and try to approach the subject from a slightly different angle.

Not just small talk

A lot of people seem to think that Twitter is all about “sitting on patios” or “my MBP did these things”, and that’s understandable. There is a lot of generally useless stuff and a lot of people just use it for that. You don’t have to. You don’t have to follow anyone that only posts that and you certainly don’t have to tweet that way. It is what you make of it.

Only one piece of the puzzle

Twitter is great, but it’s not a good replacement for anything except for the questions you might have asked on IRC. You still should be subscribing and reading DZone and individual programming blogs. You still need to try to make it to your local programming group meetings. You will still need to check out Google Groups or random forums for some answers. If you do it right, though, you can enhance your experience by engaging others who choose to be in community with you.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/walkn/ / CC BY 2.0

It requires extra effort on your part to sift through posts to find stuff you’re really interested in. I usually spend about 20 minutes a day reading and tweeting. This time doesn’t come from my work time, but my personal time at home or my lunch break. You might not have that kind of time. You may not have an iWhatever to check it while you’re waiting for your coffee to brew. Or maybe you just don’t like people and have no intention of interacting with anything without a screen.

Don’t just consume, engage

I find that a lot of programmers tweet about what they’re working on and give sneak peeks (because they want opinions) to twitter before any of their stuff hits the mainstream aggregators (DZone, Proggit, whatever). The big advantage here is that this is the point of “involvement”. You tend to play a more active role in the programming community when you have access to things in early stages. Furthermore, you open yourself up to more joint projects because you share a greater connection to mutual followers.

I’m not saying that you can’t engage on DZone or whatever, but I am saying that it’s harder to do so. For me, all those “stupid fluff” tweets get me more in tune with a larger variety of programmers habits and abilities.

Conclusion

Obviously, Twitter is not for everyone. The bottom line is that you can’t knock Twitter until you’ve given it an honest try. Like a whole week, not just a skim through someone’s tweets. It’s not going to be what you expect but I think most of you can find a way to make it valuable.

Now, a poll

I’m introducing polls (requiring Javascript for you subscribers out there ;) to this blog, starting with “How useful is twitter to you as a programmer?”. I want you all to come vote and then comment on why you voted the way you did. Be specific, too. This is not going to be a flame war, and I reserve the right to re-word all mean-spirited comments to sound like toddler temper tantrums.

Related posts:
  1. Why programmers should twitter
  2. A programmer’s 2009 resolutions
  3. The unsung key to programmer success





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