Trust, ego and Twitter

The first time I came across @paul_clarke was when there were some problems on the attribution of the #uksnow hashtag: who had come up with it first? The answer, as Paul repeatedly said, was that it didn’t matter: the point was that it was very useful.

For some people, though, this sort of thing really matters.

It’s understandable, of course, because as humans we crave recognition; there are also sometimes matters of livelihood associated with knowing who ‘owns’ what.

For me, I’ve never been that interested in or motivated by having credit attributed to me; what matters is the difference things make, then how those things were done and, lastly, who does it.

Matthew Taylor recently shared a quote attributed to Harry Truman on this topic, which captures nicely my feeling on this:

It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.

This reconfirmed something I’ve been introduced to recently, which is the formula for being a trusted adviser:

Image from Systems Rock. The equation originally appeared in The Trusted Adviser, by Maister, Green and Galford
Image from Systems Rock. The equation originally appeared in “The Trusted Adviser”, by Maister, Green & Galford

It’s no surprise that “self” is in the denominator; the more you think of yourself, the less others can trust or rely on you.

Thinking to Twitter, the folks I’ve always found hardest to follow are those who are more egocentric than most. It manifests itself in many ways; the most injurious is “forgetting” on a regular basis to attribute when tweeting things that are other people’s, or came via them.

It’s hardly an insight, but I find the Truman quote and the formula for trustworthiness useful. In the context of Twitter, I’ll always find it a better experience if there’s a little more “we” and a little less “me”.


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Man of letters & numbers; also occasionally of action. Husband to NTW. Dad of three. Friendly geek.

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