Twitter has become work. Not acceptable for work, i.e. something that is not frowned upon to do at work, but actual work, something you are required to do at work. At least this is the case if you are involved somewhere where the development team is the marketing team, like a startup or an open source project. For the record my involvement in Neo4j qualify to both categories, and Jython is most certainly an open source project, and quite a high profile such as well.
In order to stay on top of things in this situation you easily find yourself with push based twitter notification or at least reading a lot of material on a regular basis. I for example get about 150 to 200 tweets per day from the people I follow. Combine this with the expectation to stay on top of email (yet again yo go for push), and you've got a constant stream of interrupts, and this really kills productivity.
Just the other day I read the Life Offline posts by Aaron Swartz, and found that very much recognize myself in how he describes the problems of the constant online presence. It would be wonderful if I, like he was able to do, could take a long stretch of time away from being connected, but I don't think that is possible, at least not now or in a near future. The problem stands though, I am not being productive. And some things don't get done in time. And this is a problem.
I've tried shifting my email and twitter use to only do processing of these things once per day, but it still takes two hours or more from my day to simply process the incoming stream. By processing I mean:
- Read all the email and define actions.
- Read all tweets, open tabs for links that seem interesting, skim those pages and define actions.
- Read feeds and define actions.
That takes two hours. Then I still have to perform the actions that I have defined. Which could take up to the rest of the day.
I noticed already about twelve years ago how destructive online communities and social networks could be, and how much time they consume. I have thus tried to stay away from them, which is why I don't use my facebook account. But when social networking has become part of work it is much harder to avoid. In the case of Twitter it is also difficult to ignore because of how hugely influential it is. Twitter is the de facto way to find out about new things and interesting articles.
I am starting to believe that perhaps Donald Knuth made a wise decision in not having an email address, but as he points out having an email address is for people who need to be on top of things, and that he does not have an email address because he does not have to be on top of things anymore. I will agree with that, Donald Knuth has contributed a lot to the field of computer science, but he is definitely not on top of things anymore. So how do you cope with both being on top of things while still being productive? Is it possible? I would love to get any insight into the secrets that I am obviously unaware of.