There are two questions this month, both relating to the use of Twitter by a database professional. Since I pretend to be one of those professionals, who also blogs, and who also recently became a Twitter believer, I'll attempt to answer both questions.
The first question is "Why should average Jane or Joe professional consider using twitter?"
The answer is: Connections!
For the longest time, I paid no attention to Twitter, refused to even look at it. I (incorrectly) assumed it was just another Facebook. I tolerate Facebook simply because all of my family is on there, and it's easy to keep in touch. I didn't know anybody personally who used Twitter. The word "tweet" became one of those buzzwords that we all love to hate. It seemed to me that Twitter was just another distraction, another useless waste of time. I couldn't have been more wrong.
I've been on Twitter for about four months, and in those four months, I have connected with so many great people that it's mind-boggling. So many, in fact, that when I created the image above, I quickly realized that I couldn't fit everybody in that I wanted to. I settled for scrolling through my recent conversations and just picking some people at random. The people that I've connected with are creative people, smart people, funny people, passionate people, all-around GOOD people. Some of them share my sense of humor, some do not. Some of them have helped me solve problems. Some of them have pushed me to do things that I might not have done otherwise. All of them have motivated me to expand my horizons.
The second question is "What benefit have you seen in your career because of twitter?"
The answer is: difficult to summarize with a single word, but the word that comes closest is probably "Initiative".
We've all heard that saying about an object at rest tending to stay at rest, etc. and so on. I was becoming that object. I had settled into a position in which I was comfortable. My systems are, for the most part, stable, so there's not a lot of incentive to change things. I have the typical developer challenges that most DBA's have, seeing some of the same common T-SQL mistakes being made. To my own credit, I have been, and continue to be, proactive about catching performance issues in production before they've really become problems, but that's where the initiative stopped.
I had stopped interacting with the larger SQL community a few years prior. I had lost interest in renewing my certifications, partly because of the hassle involved (since I worked for the testing provider), and partly because I saw no "upside" to renewing them. There would be no immediate benefit to my career in doing so, so why bother? Basically, I had settled into a rut, going to work each day, coming home, griping about the "idiot developers", then losing myself in my model railroading, not thinking about SQL Server at all.
In June of 2011, I had an epiphany (I've always wanted to say that!). Paul Randall wrote a blog post titled "Ignorance is not Stupidity". This was a game-changer for me. After reading that post, I started thinking about some of the developer issues that we've had. Are they really idiots, or have they just not been taught the right way to do things? At that point, several things started to come together, all pushing me in a new direction. I was approached by a lead developer about the possibility of conducting some SQL trainings for the development staff. I also started reading more SQL blogs, all of them that I could find, looking for more inspirational nuggets like the one that Paul wrote. One word kept coming up on nearly every blog that I read, the word "Twitter". Reluctantly, I created a Twitter account, using my @RealSQLGuy moniker.
One thing led to another, and a few short months later, I've attended two SQL Saturday events, my first local PASS meeting, formed some new acquaintances, revived this blog, and am hoping to attend the PASS Summit in October. More importantly, I'm on track to conduct the first of an ongoing series of trainings for the developers, beginning on January 31st. I've been given lots of good ideas and suggestions for these trainings, lots of encouragement, all as a direct result of creating that Twitter account. Had I not taken that step, I'd likely still be in that rut, growing increasingly unhappy. It's a whole new game now, because of Twitter.