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Forgive me, but aside from the horrible economy, 2009 is starting to sound a lot like 1999 at the intersection of communication and technology. As with the dot.com explosion, everyone, it seems, is in technological awe of how Twitter will change our lives forever (last year, of course, it was Facebook).

This reminds me of 1999, when “everyone” was sure the day would come when we ALL bought EVERYTHING on the Internet, including groceries. Well, that prediction didn’t quite come true. It’s not a failure of technology. Certainly, ecommerce is here to stay. I am not a curmudgeon who challenges technology (I have my 3G iPhone loaded with plenty of cool apps).

No, it’s a failure of focus. You see, communication is not all about the fact that you can Tweet or Twitter or that you’re Twittering right now (with or without excitement). No, communication is all about communication. Well, duh.

As I often tell clients, if we were still dragging clubs and living in caves, we could still tell everyone who cared (and many who didn’t) what we just ate for lunch without sending a Tweet. It would just take a lot longer and be a heck of a lot less immediate, with much smaller reach.

At times like these, a useful analogy is helpful.

The delivery of clean, fresh water has been a human need since the dawn of time. The same is true of successful communication. Societies, the record shows, need both to grow and thrive.

Yet when I examine conversations (online and otherwise) about the need for fresh water in sub-Saharan Africa, the debate is not about how cool the pipes are, how thick their walls are, the size of the pumping stations, water pressure, etc., etc. Now I know that among a small community of companies and people who build pipes and water stations, that dialogue exists. Among those who need fresh water and those who hope to provide it? Nope.

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It’s the same with communication. It’s about the content, not the pipes! Sure, I use TweetDeck. I’m up to speed on CoTweet and lots of other apps and sites and communities that are useful tools. Tools. Yes, tools, as in pipes that provide fresh water, not the live-giving liquid itself. As in, tools that enable communication.

Review your Tweetstream. And then ask yourself this question: Just because I CAN Twitter my every move, should I? There is where the real debate belongs in 2009: How can we use these tools to communicate more effectively and more efficiently?

When Twitter enables the first report of the Hudson River plane crash, there’s the germ of a communication opportunity out there. While the ability to send a TwitPic from a breaking news event is noteworthy, what’s truly revolutionary is the process of figuring out how to use this technology to tell compelling stories to interested audiences, not the technology itself.

That’s our focus here at WordWrite, and with the explosion of instant, broad technological tools to communicate in the 21st century, I would argue that it’s never been more important to focus on what you have to say, rather than getting lost in the weeds of how you can say it.

Your story has never been more important, and while how you tell it is an essential aspect of communication success, it’s still about the content, not the pipes. Here’s to drinking deeply from that pipe.

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