When I first heard about Twitter, I thought, "ooh, there's another great fad that will die out in a couple of weeks." I was mainly turned off because it just seemed like sending SMS messages to your entire address book. Then when I attended PASS late last year, I came to grips with what it really is to me now: a simple and extremely useful social network, with a lot of powerful comments and questions, minus the paragraphs and paragraphs of surrounding sarcasm, rhetoric and social commentary that you find on a lot of blogs and other content sites. "Just the facts, ma'am. But do it in 140 characters or less."
I get a lot of my news from my fellow Twitter users these days, some that I would seek elsewhere anyway, but more often than not, stuff that I would have never found on my own. Recently, several discussions about Service Pack 3 have originated or ended on Twitter, and I learned about some of the challenges others are facing long before anyone else was actively blogging about it (I was also able to point out a few pitfalls to people too). I also used Twitter to promote my campaign to return the switch directional arrow in the next version of Red-Gate's SQL Compare product, which is currently in beta testing (and this was a resounding success – see the thread, or the announcement where they called my whining "intense lobbying"). I also got a few new followers, inadvertently, when I voiced my frustration with Backup Exec this morning. But hey, it led to an e-mail conversation with someone over there where I was able to express my frustration, and detail the problem, in full.
Earlier today Twitter came in very handy for "TJay Belt", who wanted to measure progress on a database shrink operation he had started earlier today, and posted a quick question asking how he might do that. I was glad when I found out that my half-assed suggestion actually helped; I wasn't even convinced that I was right at the time, as I replied from my phone and couldn't check. He was so grateful for the help that he wrote about it.
One of the things I like about Twitter is that you can easily tune in and out different people depending on your mood or how busy you are, without a chance of offending any except the most diligent follower-trackers … these are the people who scan the followers page(s) on their profile and keep tabs on who drops off their list. I will admit I did this for the first few days, but once my follower list grew beyond 20, forget it, impossible. I have un-followed a few people who just had a lot to say about nothing. For example, I don't need to see an automated tweet from your computer every time iTunes moves to the next song on your playlist. Especially if you manually hit the "next" button constantly.
You should check out the list of SQL Server twitterfolk at SQLServerPedia. This page also has a bunch of relevant information about how to use Twitter. If you're on a Mac (unlikely, though I know there are a few of you out there), or have an iPhone (definitely more common amongst SQL Server people), my program of choice is Twitterrific. For both Mac and iPhone there is a free version that tweets an ad every once in a while.
Anyway, I didn't want to write a lot about this, just wanted to let you people know that if you are working with SQL Server and you aren't using Twitter, it can help out from time to time, as long as you don't follow too many irrelevant people and are willing to sift through some off-topic stuff occasionally.