Twit Face

The use of Twitter and Facebook has morphed from the original social goal. The change has deep and broad consequences.
Initially Twitter was the town square where gossip and personal information of a significant hedonistic nature was shared. This was certainly enough to provide a motive to sell advertising, the ultimate goal of the company. But things got out of hand, as the law of unintended consequences would have it. First came the corporate involvement. Fascinated by the opportunity to spread the corporate message in new ways, the marketing department of companies, some of which do not even sell consumers goods, established Twitter accounts in order to promote both themselves and their products.

But corporate use of Twitter has problems. The sudden negative spike of the Dow Jones Industrial average on April23 is a perfect example. When the Twitter account of the Associated Press was hacked and a twit stated that president Obama was wounded, the financial market which lives on rumors and expectations, suddenly lost over 140 points in a minute. The market did recover after a few minutes as the story was revealed a hoax, but the point is that corporate use of Twitter can be dangerous. Twitter does not have the proper security for corporate use: it is a gossip site, not a news site. That is being used for corporate use is a misunderstanding of its nature. It is not like the net needs a channel to distribute corporate news. Many such channels already exists and all of them that I used are significantly more reliable than Twitter.

Another shortcoming of Twitter is that the result of corporate use cannot be measured. Sure one can count the number of followers, but no one can even estimate the positive effect of the followers on the revenue of the corporation. Should the postings stop, how much would the corporate revenue fall? Can anyone have the courage to try the experiment? In the EDA industry I am sure there isn't even one account that has purchased a license because of the contents of a Twitter account.

Lately the EDA industry is using Twitter as a way to reach both its present customers and to generate new leads by posting brief announcements of events that in themselves do not justify a full press release. So you can find news of a webinar or an invitation to visit the company at a specific conference. Is this really worth it? Suppose I was interested in a tool from a particular vendor. The natural thing to do would be to visit the corporate site and see what I can find to obtain more information. The only people that would follow Twitter post and register to a seminar, for example, are those with enough free time to follow Twitter to begin with.

Facebook has its own problems. Of course it also is not secure. I can have as many profiles on Facebook as I have email addresses. This means I can have many different personalities each serving a particular goal. Facebook is a make believe world, used to embellish one's life in two dimensions: by increasing the number of followers and by creating posts that describe an artificial glamorous life. Yet almost always real life is so different and so less attractive that the high derived from Facebook can in fact resolve in a depression that may turn dangerous. Facebook is not about news, private or corporate. It is about the loneliness of self in a world that has diminished, if not almost abolished, the personal contact with relatives and friends. It is like texting, which has replaced talking. But with texting at least you know for certain whom the interlocutor is. The bottom line is that the use of Facebook for corporate projects is unreliable because one cannot identify those that act on a post.

Do we need a specific communication tool for EDA? If so let's create one if the existing ones are found wanting, not compromise ourselves by using tools that were not designed for our purposes.