Drinking From the Fire Hose: Part 1

Have you ever tried to drink from a fire hose?  It delivers lots of water but not much of it gets where you need it to go. This is very analogous to the way we feel today when dealing with the onslaught of information that’s available on the Internet.  The Internet has replaced traditional media sources as the best, most current information source but harnessing the flow to get the information where we need it is a challenge.  This is all the more difficult for those of us not of the digital generation.  Our younger personnel are accustomed to communicating in ways that are totally foreign to us.  We know that there is a ton of information out there that would be useful to us but we don’t know how to get at it without getting caught in the deluge.  This series is about ways to use simple technologies (after all I understand them) to bring us into the information age and help us do our jobs better.

All a-Twitter

OK.  So I know that those of you who know me personally want to know who is actually writing this and what have I done with Glenn.  Belief that I developed this site on my own is a stretch, let alone my going on to advise you that Twitter can be an outstanding tool for filtering information; keeping current and focused on the things that are important for us as police leaders.  Yet I stand here today a believer.  So what is Twitter and how can you make it work  for you?

Twitter is a site that allows people the ability to write short posts, no longer than 140 characters, that are available to those who ‘follow’ them.  As I understood the concept originally,  Twitter’s value was as a social site where people would update their friends about what they were doing.  I didn’t really understand how tweets (read posts) were delivered but I imagined them taking over my ‘smart’ phone, bothering me constantly, and creating just one more complex layer of  information overload in my life – besides who would be on Twitter that I would really be interested in hearing from on a regular basis?  Certainly there are those that use Twitter for social updates but it can also be an incredible tool when harnessed for good.

To deal with one of my primary concerns when I got involved with Twitter – there is no information forced on you and you choose the way that you get information from your Twitter account.  There is also no need for you to get  on Twitter and tell anyone anything, particularly anything personal beyond the initial account set up.  Where you can find real value in Twitter is by locating sources of information that you like, know and trust and then ‘follow’ them.  Because of the rise of social media in marketing and information sharing, Twitter has grown well beyond a site where you can tell your friends what you had for dinner.  Major media outlets, corporations and organizations  maintain Twitter accounts and if you choose to ‘follow’ them, they will send updates to your Twitter account.  You can log into your home page and these tweets will flow by and you can choose to look into any of them that you think are pertinent.  I keep my Twitter account as a tab while I am working and the number of new tweets available for me  to look at is tallied on the tab.  If I get the chance to look at them great.  If not, I still manage to sleep at night. Its no more invasive than that.

The trick is to find those sources that you like, know and trust who will give you information that you value.  You may have noticed that I maintain a Twitter account for Guardian Leadership.  I do this as a public service for members of the Guardian Leadership community.  I use another tool (Google Reader) which I will tell you about another time to gather information from the top leadership, law enforcement, ethics and communications blogs and web sources.  I sift through that information and choose the information that I feel would be most useful to you and bring the information to your attention through tweets.  I try to bring you information that you wouldn’t normally see in police resources such as the best in new thoughts on leadership, etc.  You can of course send useful information through Twitter if you choose – but you can use it exclusively as a resource to see information that you have targeted as pertinent to you.

What to Do

Get a Twitter account.  Follow those resources you like, know and trust.  I hope that you will include Guardian Leadership on the list of sources you count on.  Then keep Twitter open in your browser.  It need not intrude on your day but provides you with a quick opportunity to see what is happening right now in the challenging world of policing. 

To give it a try, follow me by clicking this button.  Try Us On Twitter

As always, THANK YOU for what you do and BE SAFE!

Please Comment: Have you found any great information sources on Twitter that you would like to share?

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