Who Ya Gonna Tweet? – January 13th, 2011
|Who Ya Gonna Tweet?
Deeply understaffed airport check-in counters long ago taught me that travel snafus are almost always best resolved by cell phone, rather than waiting to speak to someone onsite. As phones get smarter and wireless networks become faster and more reliable, using the internet is quickly becoming another great alternative. I find it incomprehensible, however, that some people (and many corporations) seem to be placing a bet on Twitter as the next wave in customer service. The New York Times reported on a study of how major U.S. banks responded to customersthat tried to contact them via Twitter and found it to be a “vexing customer service tool”. You’re kidding — sending a 140 character message to a best-guess Twitter handle about a critical financial matter isn’t the way to go?
Outta My Way
Perhaps my daily experience on the teeming streets, subways and shop floors of New York leaves me a little cynical about the “wisdom of the crowd.” This week, while reading a heartwarming blogpost from Ushahidiabout how crowdsourcing helped rescuers find trapped victims in the Haiti earthquake two years ago, I remained somewhat skeptical. It makes sense to use network connections for gathering data and uncovering important tidbits of information. But in a crisis, it seems like Twitter, Facebook and other social networks rely too much on serendipity. Like who’s online at a given moment, or who might be too busy texting to read their newsfeed.
Travelling by bus this week from Hartford to New York, I overheard two young 20-something travellers trying to find a place to crash for the night when they got to the city. I couldn’t help but overhear their strategy: based on a list of people they had met at various “occupy protests” they’re making their way from the East to the West coast with no money, but lots of contacts. Rather than Facebook or Twitter or e-mails, the two were phoning and texting anyone and everyone they could think of. Apparently it’s not a far-fetched approach, as it only took a little over two hours for them to nail down a place to sleep. Fortunately the bus ride is two and a half. (I used the time to write this blog).
My spouse is in love with someone else. Apparently her name is Siri and she lives inside his iPhone. All day long he asks her vital questions such as (and I quote) “Will I need an umbrella tomorrow?” and “What is the meaning of life?” Possibly because I’m 15 years older than he is, I still find the notion of artificial intelligence rather chilling. Whereas I love the use of technology to connect people with other people, it frightens me to imagine a world where people are only interested in connecting to…what should I call them…non-people. Am I the only one who finds Siri incredibly creepy? Or am I just jealous?