Creative Strategies

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Twitter as Knowledge Management tool or Emergency Management Information System?

The recent election and subsequent protests/rallies in Iran have once again brought the "Micro Blogging" web application Twitter to the forefront. It's relatively ease of use and access from any browser and especially most mobile phones, makes it a step above a mass SMS (txt) message. However, instead of sending the message to only your contacts, depending on your security settings, you can send it to the world. Or at least let the world find it.

So in a setting like today when Twitter is being used by people in Iran to let their friends and the rest of the world know what is going on in the streets, is Twitter actually a Knowledge Management tool? Is it sharing information derived from someone's knowledge of the situation? Is it being combined with other sources of knowledge (in this case the "Visual Blogging" image site flickr) to expand upon a subject? Can someone look at this information and learn something from it?

The answer: sort of.

People are using the application to share information they have, so that criteria is met. News outlets around the globe are sharing 140 character facts about what is going on inside Iran's borders. However, the same outlets are also sharing "tweets" from people outside the border. The issue is that some times its hard to tell where the real source is.

Unlike Wikis where there are protocols and massive amounts of users checking facts, Twitter is instant and emotional. People do not read tweets and send corrections or ask for incorrect information to be removed. They may leave comments to suggest as much or disagree with the author, but nothing has to be corrected.

I think in this case, Twitter is being used much more like the Amber Alerts in the United States. Information that is being broadcast to possibly thousands of people. In the case of Amber Alerts, its to notify police departments and the public of an abducted child. In the case of Iran, it's to notify the world of violations to human rights. Well, if you believe in human rights. Otherwise you probably think that images of Neda are propaganda from the West to destabilize the Iranian government.

Either way, information is being shared in tremendous volume. The law of Knowledge Management now asks. . . what do we do with all of that information?

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