Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The lexicon of language!

Good Day Readers:

Interesting isn't it how language changes over time. Remember "the good old days" when if you talked about "pot" it was something in which to cook your veggies, a joint was a body part or saying you were "gay" meant you were happy? Not any more fast forward to today. "Don't be a twit" has a new connotation or what about "twittiquette" and "twitterverse?"

Clare L. Pieuk
Twitter at work – just don't be a twit
Twitter trend is catching on, but beware of over-tweeting at the office

Globe and Mail
March 23, 2009

Warning all Twittering job hunters and employees: Don't become the next Cisco Fatty.

Just last Tuesday, “theconnor,” a Twitter alias for a masters student in California, was offered a job at the high-tech giant. Itching to share her news, she sent out a “tweet:”

“Cisco just offered me a job! Now I have to weigh the utility of a fatty paycheck against the daily commute to San Jose and hating the work.”

In less than an hour, she received this reply: “ Who is the hiring manager. I'm sure they would love to know that you will hate the work. We here at Cisco are versed in the web.”

Word has it the Cisco Fatty never got that padded paycheque, but her story has quickly become a cautionary tale in the so-called Twitterverse.

Just as ill-conceived Facebook status updates and cringe-worthy reply-all emails plague the workplace, Twitter is becoming the new office gaffe trap. For proof, look no further than recent news headlines.

Last Sunday, Milwaukee Bucks forward Charlie Villanueva sent a tweet from his locker room at halftime that was followed up by a wrist slap from coach Scott Skiles, who said he thought it made the player and the team appear unfocused.

“There's something going on in virtual wonderland called Twitter-ing,” Alberta Speaker of the House Ken Kowalski said recently when he discovered MLAs were twittering during Question Period. Similar issues have come up in the U.S. Congress.

As with many new technologies, rookies are still feeling it out and blunders are bound to happen.

While there are many benefits to Twitter – a stream-of-consciousness style of communication and a handy and hip social network – it has proven to bite back and threaten everything from employee attention spans to competitive practices to an afternoon playing hooky, experts say.
“It's both discomforting for the companies from a messaging perspective, and individuals are not necessarily using it in the best way possible,” says Jen Evans, founder and chief strategist of Sequentia Environics, which helps companies connect with clients using technology.

Twitter is like a giant chat room – a place where you send out “tweets” limited to 140 characters about what's on your mind. Anyone can see them unless you've affixed privacy settings, and you can “follow” and “be followed.”

The tweets, even if deleted from your page, are easily found on Google and people can subscribe to receive tweets via news alerts – exactly how the Cisco Fatty comment was found.

The microblogging site is not just an employee distraction but boosts the chance of company leaks, says John Challenger, CEO of Chicago workplace consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

“There might be Twitter fanatics who maybe are putting aside their work, but generally it's no different from cellphone, e-mail and Facebook,” he says. “But I would say companies are more concerned … [about being the] first to announce a particular piece of information, an event, a new development. Twitter is letting that information get out of control.”

There are upsides, too. It can be a great sphere for employees to converse and ease their stress in a tense working environment, he adds.

“Having outlets when we can laugh at what one of our friends said is not all bad. There are people who really like Twittering because it's really quick chatting.

There's an antidote quality to relieving the stress that it offers.”

Twittering about your personal life can help you professionally, too, Ms. Evans says. Your tweet about visiting Cape Cod for the weekend might spark small talk that can land your next business deal or nurture a budding workplace friendship.

But there's a fine line between working contacts and just not working, she says.

“It's a great way to outreach, but you need to walk that line very carefully, because the more you personally tweet, the more it seems like all you do is twitter and it's not relevant to your work and it seems like you're goofing off half the time.”

Twitter and other social media can blur the line between public and private lives and highlight how younger and older generations value privacy differently, says Marc-David Seidel, an associate professor of management at the University of British Columbia's Sauder School of Business who researches how social media are used in the workplace.

The stream-of-consciousness style can also spell trouble by encouraging impulsive spew-offs, he says.

“When people experience something negative, before they formally interact with others about it they tend to think about it. Whereas if you're able to instantly put it out there to however many hundreds of followers you have, there's no filtering process any more.”

While some managers are scratching their heads about how to deal with it, others are embracing Twitter for networking and outreach. Workplace-specific microblogging sites like Yammer have even cropped up.

Professor Seidel says he expects rules about Twitter conduct to creep into company human resources packages, but that's still a long way off. Many companies don't even have specific guidelines about Facebook, he says.

“They're writing [Twitter] off as a crazy fad,” he says of managers' attitudes toward the site.

“Eventually there'll be little workshops about how to keep an appropriate Web presence.”

Perhaps by then the Cisco Fatty will be running one.


@employeebob: Boy the boss has bad BO today.

Wait! Step away from the keyboard! You may just be sending that note to the buddies in your Twitterverse, but know your tweets are searchable and can serve you serious trouble at work.

It's not worth the risk, says Twitter expert Julia Roy, of Undercurrent, a digital think tank based in New York. She tells us how to avoid a workplace gaffe:

- Introduce your manager to Twitter and show him how it can be a good workplace tool.

- Treat Twitter tweets like e-mail messages. “Just like before you send that nasty e-mail to a friend because you're mad at them, you want to think about what you post before you post it,” she says. “Make sure it's grammatically correct [and make sure] you're sending the message you want to get across.”

- Have a trial run. Get everyone started on Twitter in a limited capacity so they can get comfortable. Then unlock it and set the Twitter-schooled free.

- Rant over drinks with your friends, not on Twitter.

- Would you say that to your boss's face? “If you're going to spray-paint it on the town square, [you know] it's okay to say,” she says.


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