Twitter and engineers, redux

I finished, John Cooley's latest reports about an hour ago and have been cogitating on his comments on engineers and Twitter (EE Times reported June 21 that 85 percent of semi design engineers don't like it). John said:

"I thought this article was interesting because it also pointed to the key reason WHY I don't like Twitter 
-- my work requires long periods of uninterrupted concentration or I'll mess up what I'm doing."

My initial reaction to this point was, "That's valid.  After all you need to learn how to be disciplined enough to know when to and not to pay attention to the conversation, and when to respond, before you can find value in social media."

But then he said:

"With Twitter you get endlessly pelted every few minutes with random, mostly
useless tweets and retweets. "Running IE8 on my netbook is way too sloooow.
Chrome is much fasssssster." "Go Red Sox!" "Getting on the plane SNA to
DEN. Anxious to see my family." "Cool. IBM does 'innovation jams' to help
generate ideas." "Watching a presentation on VHDL-2008. I want to program
in nothing else from now on!" "NPR's Carl Kasell has been nominated to the
Radio Hall Of Fame! Details on how to vote: xxxxxxxx" "A cartoon for all
you Mamas." "Apple controls 20% of NAND Flash market says DRAMeXchange
with iPhone and iPad."

My reaction to this point was, "Is that what engineers discuss when they are supposedly talking to each other?  What kind of social circle are you in, John?"

This is what's on my Newtechpress Twitter feed as I type this:

What the mass market wants in a connected TV...and can't find yet. New blog post @ #connected TV #googleTV

Oxygen sensors (google): Q&A: Check manual for details on timing belt vs. timing chains -: Full

And I'm not an engineer.  When people I follow only post where they are eating, I drop them because I don't really care, in the context of New Tech Press, where people are at the moment. But then I had something of a revelation.  

It probably doesn't matter if semiconductor engineers like using social media because their input would have no real value to the community at large.  Here's why: 

Prior to the growth of social media we had three classes of participants in the market conversation --Producers, Consumers and Observers (vendors, customers and press).  Even though observers made every effort to be objective, they were still viewed with skepticism by the other two.  Producers and Consumers did not trust each other either and the Observers didn't trust each other, much less the other two.  It was a circle of mutual distrust.  But in any discussion, whoever decided to agree created the winning viewpoint.

As the Observers became economically unable to provide objective insight, What remained were two groups that did not trust the other and relied on insight provided only within their group, isolating the discussion in the marketplace to little more than rumor... until social media rose to take the place of the Observer role, which is what is happening now, although with much less effort to be objective.  

Right now, the discussion in the marketplace is being defined by those participating through social media.  Traditional press is more reliant on the social discussion then it is on traditional interaction between Consumers and Producers (in the form of news releases, trade shows, press conferences, etc.) because it takes less time to monitor the social online conversation than it does to hop on a plane to a convention.Except in the world of the engineer... because the engineer doesn't care about the problems and insight of anyone but whoever is on his design team.  The concern of the engineer is the issue on his desk at the moment... Just like John Cooley said... and he needs to think about it uninterrupted .  Just give him the numbers you want to hit and leave him alone to figure it out.  That's the way traditional engineers figure stuff out.  They don't care why they have to hit those numbers, they just know they have a deadline to hit them.  So go away and leave them alone.But the discussion in the social network is all about the "why" of the numbers, not the numbers themselves.  That's what makes social media important to the majority of the market.

So, does that mean engineers should just not worry about learning how to use social media, like Twitter?  Nope.  And I'll tell you why next.