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Just as one becomes familiar with blogs, wikis and podcasts, seems there’s an emerging generation of Web2.0 applications appearing online, known as persistent presence tools. Examples of these are Twitter and Jaiku

To some extent these remind me of the message lines that you can customise on Skype or iChat – I use mine to acknowledge where I am at any particular time, knowing that the people who have me on their ‘buddy list’

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With these new programs you have the opportunity to maintain a constant flow of information about what you are doing that can be published to your ‘buddies’ on the web via a web browser or their mobile device. Like any new technology, there’s a great deal of debate about the usefulness of these tools – are they just a gimmick or something that could genuinely contribute to our ‘social presence’ in the virtual world?

Kathy Sierra has written a lengthy blog entry titled “Is Twitter Too Good?”, in which she compares these tools with the addictiveness of slot machines, and says

Twitter is yet another–potentially more dramatic–contribution to the problems of always-on multi-tasking… you can’t be Twittering (or emailing or chatting, of course) and simultaneously be in deep thought and/or a flow state.

Luis Suarez, on the other hand, in his post titled “10 Reasons Why Twitter Will Help Improve Your Already Existing Social Networks” confesses to beginning as a doubter, but has been moved by observations of the use of these technologies by friends and colleagues to write his 10 reasons why he strongly believes that Twitter is actually a very empowering social software tool that would help knowledge workers improve their already existing social networks.

I’m sure readers of this blog will form their own conclusions over the next few months – in the meantime, I’ve signed up and have my own profile with Twitter to see just how many of Suarez’s ten points might apply to my work situation!

Update – my colleague Greg Carroll just alerted me to Wendy Boswell’s post on LifeHacker which has suggestions and links to ideas of how Twitter might be used in a work context – and a comment suggesting its use in school for passing notes around class!

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