Twitter Is A Utility


March 18, 2011

I read the most fascinating article in MIT’s Technology Review recently.  It was an interview with Jack Dorsey, creator and former Chairman of Twitter.  Jack was replaced as chairman last October by co-founder Evan Williams and Jack is now working on his next “big thing”.  Square.

Square (@square) is a system which enables individuals to make payments via their smart-phones.  While the idea of Square is interesting and worth reading more about in the MIT article, it was a quote about Twitter that caught my attention.  “I think of Square in the same way we thought of Twitter.  We’re building a utility.” It is an interesting concept.

I am often asked why I use Twitter.  What is the value?  Why should I use it?  Is it worth my time?  I then give all the reasons I use it and examples of how it can be beneficial from a number of different business perspectives.  However, this new way of thinking about Twitter  really shocked me in a positive way.

If Twitter is a utility, it is a necessity.  The naysayers will not believe it yet since we’re still in the early stages of adoption of social platforms for business use.  I have been using Twitter as part of my daily routine for 2 1/2 years though and I can attest to it’s utility.  It’s serendipitous to think of all the information I’ve been exposed to during that time that may have never been available to me.  The only limit to what you as an individual or  your organization can do with Twitter is your imagination.

  • Recruiting
  • Research
  • News
  • Teaching
  • Sales
  • Networking
  • Information sharing
  • Emergency Preparedness
  • Collaboration
  • Sports

So, what do you think?  Will Twitter soon appear as one of the utilities on future editions of Monopoly?  Welcome to the Twitterverse!


  • I found that Twitter can be very dangerous. Look at Gilbert Gottfried- he lost his job with Aflac over some bad tweets. Thankfully, all three people who followed me never really paid much mind to my tweets, as I would say some caustic things (usually about the Detroit Red Wings) out of drunk boredom.

    I see what you’re saying about Twitter, I just choose to not use it mainly because it is so easy to spout crap that could ruin your career. I found it actually quite pointless.

    Now Square up- that’s something cool. As soon as I get a modern cell phone, I am going to use that.

  • Hi Trish,

    Apologies for not commenting on more of your excellent posts! I found your quote of Dorsey to have interesting timing given the controversy over Twitter’s recent actions to discourage developers from developing front end client apps to it.

    For if Twitter is a utility in terms of what it can be used for, couldn’t an argument be made for how it is viewed as well?

    Thanks for the great post!

  • I think is absolutely a utility- and a critical one! I use my Twitter mainly as a method of building my career. Twitter helps me build my online profile, make connections, and exposes me to a tremendous amount of information; I follow links generally several times a day. What Doug says in his comment is also true; it is easy to spout crap, as well. The trick is simply to be aware that what you write is not private, and to behave accordingly. As long as you use it carefully, Twitter is an amazing tool. Heck, I found this article off a tweet!

  • Totally concur….a utility in every sense of the word Trish. Despite being given some great advice that I should not try to convince people of the power of twitter, I continue on my campaign! Good post.

  • Trish: Your article made me think of a couple of things.

    1) Agree, twitter is a utility. As with all utilities, it’s there for us to use as we see fit — a lot, not at all, productively, abusively, etc. The open switch for me is whether it makes the leap from personal tool to organizational infrastructure. Your “emergency preparedness” example, could drive it from an optional tool to a necessity with an organization or community. (Not long ago, email was optional. Now, you can’t have a kid in sports without it.)

    2) Square has me on edge awaiting the business model behind it. Where’s the revenue engine going to fit in? Will it bolt on to the current credit model or go head to head against it?

    Your readers seem to have an accelerated read on the pulse of technology, so I’d love to hear musings on the topic from the HR Ringleader Community.

    Thanks for your inspiration Trish.


  • DK-

    Square is going up directly against the other credit card processors. It is a flat 2.5% fee no matter what card it is. It is free to sign up and the reader is free. I deliberately did not join my salon’s credit card processor for a variety of reasons, one of which is a $30 sign-up and a sometimes less-than-direct deposit to the bank account nightmare stories I had witnessed.

    I think Square is going to turn the current business model of credit card processing on it’s head. Square has basically eliminated all of the reasons why I don’t accept credit cards. As soon as I get out of the stone ages with my phone, it’s getting Squared.

  • July 6 2008 by There have been several discussions about whether or Twitter will kill itself or even some new application will kill both of them. Instead of these applications being the destination that many people crave they are just the enablers for future applications.The proliferation of third party applications running on top of FriendFeed and Twitter is showing the power of these APIs and the data these services provide.

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About Trish

A former HR executive and HCM product leader with over 20 years of experience.


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