In my last blog entry, I mentioned that I was able to keep up with a lot of the discussion going on at a recent Accellera TSC meeting just by reading the tweets from the participants. That experience got me thinking about how much social media has changed the nature of such meetings, and the consequences of these changes. Clearly, public tweeting from confidential meetings related to your job is crazy and an invitation to be fired on the spot. But one can argue that meetings of standards bodies are of a different nature, with the more openness the better, so on-the-fly tweeting is perfectly acceptable.
I am not criticizing my colleagues or others who tweeted at this particular TSC meeting, but I am raising the question of whether this is a good thing. I have had a fair amount of standards experience over the years in Accellera, IEEE, VSIA, PCI Special Interest Group, 1394 Trade Association, etc. Some groups were quite open even in those pre-Twitter days, with public notes posted almost as soon as each meeting was over. Others were closed, with the expliciit or implicit understanding that what happened in the meetings stayed among the membership until and unless a press release was issued.
While I think that closed meetings have some value, especially in terms of focus, in the standards world I find myself leaning toward a more open stance. Calling for outside input before important votes would involve more
people and potentially bring in more information that could lead to
better decisions. Of course, communicating the big decisions will happen naturally if tweeting is allowed at all. The biggest risk I see is excessive tweeting for every lilttle twist and turn of the discussions, which may reveal too much about "how the sausage is made" and send the impression that the standards group is indecisive.
Another concern is that meetings are tough enough these days with half the participants reading email and texting; adding Twitter to the mix might bring progress to a halt. There's also the possibility that participants might be less open about their opinions if they fear that their words will be instantly broadcast to the whole planet and archived forever. So, I'm perhaps 60% aligned with those who support tweeting from Accellera TSC (and similar) meetings and 40% aligned with those who find this a distraction or an impediment for the committee. I'd like to start a dialogue on this topic - what do YOU think?
The truth is
out there...sometimes it's in a blog.
Interesting topic Tom.
In my opinion, reading emails, blackberries etc in meetings is a pretty poor show, it shows that you're not really that interested in being at the meeting. In that vein, twittering is just as bad.
However, there is a perception at large that these kind of standards committees are full of vendors conspiring to deliver anything but the best interests of the industry. One good thing about making these meeting totally public (to view at least) is that if someone doubts a committee member's intentions, then the public record is there to set the matter straight.
And of course if the meetings are recorded, it will help ensure those who aren't pulling their weight get found out, thus the work may be accelerated as no-one wants to be seen to be the blocking point...