The dumb names are not important

Model T Ford club members (courtesy me'nthedogs' on Flickr CC)It’s hard to take something called “Twitter” seriously, I know, but the various cutesy-named social media tools and applications are not important in and of themselves.

It is what people are doing with them.

These are early days for Web connection technology, very much akin to the early days of the automobile. Sure, the first cars were loud, stupid and rather unreliable, compared to Ye Olde Horse.

Why bother, said most folks.  Aren’t those silly new machines a ridiculous extravagance?

If, however, one looked beyond how to make the danged things work, and finding decent roads to drive them on, and locating places that sold gas, tires and parts, one could see the Big Picture….fast and affordable personal transportation across vast distances, anywhere, anytime.

That’s the social Web, too: human connection, anywhere and anytime.

Today I’m reading a John Sutter article on CNN.com about Steve Tucker, a farmer in Brandon, Nebraska who sends tweets from his tractor (I learned about the article on Twitter, of course.)

Who the hell cares, you ask? I care. Here is why, from the article:

“Tucker is proof that smartphones are starting to put down roots in rural America. He lives in a 150-person town near Brandon, Nebraska — a place even he calls ‘the middle of nowhere.’ The nearest neighbor to his 4,000-acre farm is about 2 miles away.

Yet, farmers like Tucker are using Internet-enabled phones to gain a foothold on online social networks — both for business and personal reasons. (Follow him on Twitter)

‘I can be in the most remote place and just with the power of having a BlackBerry … I can communicate with anybody at anytime about anything,’ he said. ‘It is just amazing.’

The growth of smartphones on farms is important because many people don’t think about where their food comes from, much less associate a specific farmer with that process, said Andy Kleinschmidt, a farmer and agricultural extension educator at Ohio State University.

‘When you can put a name or personality with someone who’s actually raising corn and soybeans or actually milking cows, that’s the most important thing that’s come about in my opinion,’ he said.”

We are watching our society knit itself together, making far-reaching human connections across timezones and cultures, in totally new and unexpected ways.  I learned about Steve in Nebraska on the same day that I reconnected with a wonderful travel writer in Florida;  I first heard Tom Swick speak at the best annual book festival anywhere, and now he’s figuring out what to do with Twitter, just like Steve on the tractor.

I would not miss this moment in history for anything, even if it does come laden with goofy names for the tools we are using to make that history.

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6 Responses to The dumb names are not important

  1. Tucker says:

    Great look at what is happening. Twitter is becoming everyones phone number. Its much easier to contact me via twitter than the phone. The world just keeps getting smaller…..and I like it. No, I embrace it.

  2. Pam Hayes says:

    Great post, Sheila. Maybe I can get used to twitter, after all.

  3. Linda says:

    If Steve’s on twitter with his smartphone, maybe I can get my husband to tweet from his tractor as well. Getting a blackberry to keep up with weather and grain markets was one of the best business decisions he’s made. Staying connected from the “middle of nowhere” is easier now than in days past.

    • When I was in Kansas, I could not believe the terrific cell phone reception – signal carries because it’s so flat – so the smartphone/tractor combo didn’t surprise me that much. I simply loved finding such an active blogger in addition to Twitter enthusiast.

      Good luck with your hubs!

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