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In college I repaired pinball machines for spare cash. Not that I was qualified or trained to do so, the market rate was $35 hourly for pinball repair when the alternate positions paid $3 hourly. So, yeah, I can fix pinball machines, I said, and taught myself how to do so. As fate would have it, the timing of this was fortuitous.
In the late 70's when I did this, the switch to circuit board based pinball and video games gathered steam. For me, it was an absolute revelation to see a 5" by 10" circuit board replace a two foot by three foot set of electromechanical relays. I didn't really understand and certainly couldn't fix the circuit boards but I knew they were the future. I was sure they were my future.
I graduated in 1982 and joined nascent the personal computer business. I followed it since through networking, electronic mail, Internet technologies and Venture Capital. Always looking for the new, new thing and usually thrilled to find it.
Which brings me to Twitter and Real Time in the present moment. I think the true significance of Real Time information is largely being lost on most due to the technology's mis-characterization as a tool for providing a world wide update on one's breakfast cereal choice. Yes, it can do that. But it can do and will do a whole lot more for society and commerce when it is more properly harnessed for productive purposes.
How will that happen? Well, first, we would begin to recognize that all the information we typically access today is inherently stale by comparison, it is not anything approaching real time information. So, for example, if you're a salesperson walking into an account and want the latest status --- you can get it so long as you're willing to accept information from yesterday or before -- but you won't see what has happened today. And what happened today is often what's on the customer's mind when you walk in the door. The bad customer support call, the mis-addressed shipment, the credit hold or the sales call by one of your company colleagues from another division -- all the stuff from earlier today that one only finds out after the fact. After you've stepped on the land mine. Success is not only about the right information but is about getting it at the right time.
There is another aspect to real time information that bears discussion which is authenticity. Every story loses some edge over time. The update immediately following a sales call is simply more authentic than the filtered, moderated one that gets entered into the corporate systems one, two or three days later. Is this always good? No, probably not. But emotion and initial reaction is important in sales and in life. And now there are tools to capture both related to our endeavors. To get real situational awareness, filtered and unfiltered, current and archived, is better than a facsimile.
We are also raising a generation that may be more comfortable with the texting paradigm for data entry than any other form. There is an element of the path of least resistance for the Twitter form of information contribution. It is easier and faster and as a result, may dominate information entry sooner rather than later.
Circuit boards found much higher purpose than pinball machines over time and real time information updates will do far more than keep the world apprised of our critical cereal choices.Related articles by Zemanta