News the new way

Last night, protests that have been taking place in Toronto for the past few weeks at Queen’s Park and the US Consulate spilled onto the Gardiner Expressway, the elevated freeway that runs through downtown.

It was this event that brought home to me on a personal level the way the world is changing when it comes to how news is disseminated, and the role Twitter is playing in ushering in this new era.

Tamil protest on the GardinerMy condo looks over the freeway and I was able to watch the protests from above as they progressed through the evening. It started around 6:30pm and lasted until nearly midnight, when the last of the diehards finally called it a day.

When I wasn’t taking pictures of the crowd below, I was glued to my Twitter client of choice (for this week anyway), DestroyTwitter, reading the updates coming in from people watching the action from different vantage points.

All you needed to do follow the trend was search for #tamil or #tamilprotest. People weren’t just commenting on how crazy it all looked from above, but were also posting links to background information about the protests and the reason for them.

The most valuable aspect to me of this new way to experience current events is the connection I felt to everyone else in the city inconvenienced by the shutdown of the busy thoroughfare. There are a variety of points of view on the intelligence of the tactic itself, and everyone is sharing theirs via Twitter. It’s just such an incredible tool to connect people.

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Twitter for accounting professionals?

Dennis wrote a post a few days ago about Twitter within “a business context” entitled “The pain of disruption“:

I want to DO something with Twitter. The more I think about what Twitter might deliver, the more scary it becomes. Twitter challenges my ingrained notions of how services and value are delivered.

In case you haven’t heard of Twitter, it is basically like group instant messaging. You create your own account and start making small (144 characters is the max) posts about what you’re doing or thinking about. Other Twitterers “follow” you and receive your postings on their home page.

For whatever reason the post really ignited something within me and I found myself commenting right away, although with an idea that sort of just fell out of my brain half-baked:

Off the top of my head, how about Twitter channels for large, distributed groups working together (I’m thinking specifically of audit teams but there are obviously other applications) to aid communication. Group IM seems useful as long as it can be secured for sensitive business.

I continued to ruminate on the issue and hoped some more ideas could be generated.

How about for Twitter for an entire accounting firm office? I could throw out a question to the entire firm, like “Does anyone have a GST reconciliation schedule template handy?” or “Why is the capital gains exemption limited to only qualified small business corporation shares?”

Being able to ask those sorts of questions is helpful since I’m rarely in the office unless it’s busy season (and even then it’s just evenings and weekends). Being able to ask my more senior colleagues technical questions when I’m in the field would be great, but not too different from using email. The difference I guess would be not having to enter all their addresses.

How about using Twitter to communicate with clients? This has some possibilities as well. Being able to communicate with clients about new accounting standards coming into effect, or relevant changes to tax law would improve client service and provide timely updates that blows the current model away.

Any other ideas for using Twitter within a business context or specifically for accountants?