Collaboration on Twitter

Hey world, in 140 characters here’s what I’m up to. This is the typical language of a Twitter message. But can the micro blogging platform be used as a tool for conversation and collaboration. And if so, what type of collaboration can it be used for?

To investigate this, Courtenay Honeycutt and Susan Herring scrapped hundreds of tweets from Twitter in a 12 hour timeframe and analyzed those tweets. In spite of the fact that Twitter was designed for answering the question “What are you doing?” their work showed that people are actually utilizing for much more than this.

The research showed that Twitter can be used for conversation and collaboration, but in order to successfully accomplish these tasks certain techniques must be utilized. The most popular of these included using the @ sign for addressivity. Since twitter is a very noisy platform which does not differentiate between conversation dialogs, users have to use the @ sign to direct messages to a desired individual.

It’s good to know that Twitter can be used for collaboration, but the work done through collaboration on Twitter will depend on its importance, nature and sensitivity. Sure there is the direct messaging option, but that would somewhat defeat the purpose because this is similar to traditional email except in character count. But irrespective of this, we’ve seen collaboration through Twitter on a massive scale as was demonstrated in the Arab Spring revolutions, the occupy Wall Street movements and the 2009 Iran election protests.

I think that Twitter as a good collaboration platform for public activities. Since it is such an open platform and anyone who decides to follow you can see your posts, one needs to be more careful about using the platform for more sensitive activities. But for a quick non sensitive collaboration in achieving some objective, as Honeycutt and Herring reported, Twitter can serve a very valuable role.


Honey, C., & Herring, S. C. (2009, January). Beyond microblogging: Conversation and collaboration via Twitter. In System Sciences, 2009. HICSS’09. 42nd Hawaii International Conference on (pp. 1-10). IEEE.


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