Sunday, April 19, 2009

Twitter as a tool

Jeremiah Owyang has a post where he thinks ahead to how the emergence of Twitter in the mainstream is going to change the nature of Twitter.

Among the insights aboout celebs will use and be able to monetize Twitter, and how the early-adopters are beginning to react, was this nugget:
More Hay and less Needles
This increase in people, and brands of all sorts joining Twitter will cause more noise and content to be created. We haven’t even seen the half of it, as devices like your car, laptop, can start auto-emitting signals that could become tweets. As a result, expect more filtering tools and analysis by humans to matter more and more.

To me, these would be needles, not hay. I've heard of the emergence of technologies that would permit a refrigerator, for instance, to send a signal to the owner and the warranty-repair facility when it senses a component failing. Adding this capability to to electronic and mechanical devices in the home, utilizing Wi-Fi as the signal transport, and Twitter (or Facebook or just plain old e-mail) would be a killer-app for someone like me.

For instance, my car, sitting in garage, would be within my wireless network and would send a tweet saying "Time to change the oil (or brakepads or transmission fluid...)". If the car had the ability to sense critical failures and notify me: "I am sensing a loss of radiator fluid in excess of normal usage", it would trigger me to search out a leak in a hose before I wind up on the side of the highway with a looming tow and expensive repair bill.

Would I pay more for a car/refrigerator/washing machine/dishwahser/TV with this feature? Sure, depending on the product and its tendency to fail. A car is easy; repairs are expensive and I am not a car-guy. I need prompting of this sort. Household appliances? Depends. Most of mine last years and years and years, so the value I would perceive for this technology would not be as great as with a car.

Like any option on any product, there will be a market for this technology that will depend on the relative value of the technology versus the price of the product (easier sell on more expensive products) and the perceived value to the user. Do I see making twitter a utilitarian tool, in addition to a social networking tool, a good thing?

You bet.

Oh yeah, Tweet me.