Best Buy calls Twitter a job qualification

Twitter skeptics will find the idea silly, but it's not, particularly not in this case.

Of course Best Buy should be seeking Twitter experience in a candidate for a senior manager's position in "emerging media." Who would dream of landing such a job without first-hand knowledge of the most-hyped emerging medium in recent memory?

But that's not to say the company was going about measuring Twitter savvy in the right manner. Nor does it answer the more difficult question of who among us needs to be on Twitter for the sake of our employers and our careers. (It's a question we're grappling with at Network World.)

Best Buy's job posting was for a "Senior Manager – Emerging Media Marketing" and listed basic qualifications of a bachelor's degree, two-plus years of marketing experience and a year of active blogging. Under "preferred" qualifications were a graduate degree and 250-plus followers on Twitter.Again, I'd want any candidate for such a job to be an active blogger and have a hand in Twitter. However, an arbitrary number of Twitter followers will not separate the dabblers from the more meaningfully experienced.

Anyone can accumulate followers on Twitter. The real questions are whether you're actively participating and realizing any tangible benefits from that participation.

Although I'm not interested in working for Best Buy, I do meet the company's Twitter threshold, having attracted 1,700 followers since taking the plunge eight months ago. Yet I remain wholly unconvinced that everyone needs to be on Twitter.

Yes for would-be senior managers of emerging media. Yes for technology trade-press editors. No for CEOs. (A recent survey showed only two Fortune 100 CEOs are on Twitter, and it seems to me they have more to explain than the non-Tweeting 98.) Maybe for most everyone else.

As for you? The best way to find out is to give Twitter a shot. It's free, it can't hurt, you might find you like it … and you never know when you might need a job at Best Buy.

Why would Microsoft patent a hinge?

Not that I was losing sleep or anything, but the question in my blog headline — "Why does the maker of Windows hold a patent on a door hinge? — had gone unanswered since Dec. 14, 2006. Now, thanks to the inventor's grandson, we are able to put this mystery to rest.

It's actually called a "butt hinge with integrally formatted butt straps" and it's on file in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office database: Patent No. 5,819,372; inventor: Robert D. Magoon, Duluth, Ga.; assignee: Microsoft.

I asked Microsoft's public relations department at the time but they were unable to assist. Life moved on.

Fast-forward to July 2009, and I receive an e-mail from Rob Roeder:

"I am the grandson of Robert D. Magoon, subject of your article. After finding this article on the Internet by chance, I asked him about it and he gave me the lowdown on the whole story. … The patent was originally (and still is) owned by Kawneer Company. When the patent was originally made, the patent office accidently registered the "butt hinge with butt straps" to Microsoft instead of Kawneer. The error was quickly fixed."

Incompetence, not intrigue. I should have guessed.

But, while I wouldn't dream of questioning the recall of Mr. Magoon or the veracity of his grandson, I do find it curious that a decade after the mistake there remains the erroneous document posted on the Internet.

However, a search on the company's Web site shows that Kawneer does sell butt hinges.

And a search on Microsoft.com shows that Microsoft does not. Mystery solved.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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