Twitter While You Drive?

onstar_twitter 

Image courtesty of Jalopnik.com

Several outlets are reporting that General Motors and Twitter are exploring partnership options that would integrate Twitter with GM’s OnStar system.

Technically, this is brilliant.  For many reasons.  Firstly, voice-to-text technology, like Microsoft’s SYNC (which has been available in Ford vehicles for some time now), is nothing new, but it took until fairly recently to get it to work properly.  So in terms of high-tech, if this is going to be able to translate speech onto a web-based application, we are right there.

Secondly, GM, if you haven’t heard, is in something of a bad way these days.  So tying themselves to something as popular and ubiquitous as Twitter may well help with brand recognition, and may even help sell a few more portly Escalades.

Thirdly, Twitter itself is quite excellent as a social media tool.  Capable, possibly, of having a new journalism format grow from it. We’ll even be launching a new section of PR Nonense to help guide newcomers through the process of gettinga active in the world of social media, and will include some great tools to help get started with Twitter.

GM’s OnStar system would allow Twitter users to update their “what are you doing,” sections simply by pressing the button and talking.  No doubt there are some kinks to be worked out as, with only a limited number of characters allowed for each tweet, pronunciation-to-spelling accuracy would become essential:

You want to say: “Goin 2 the Sox game 2nite. Beckett’s hurlin Ks”

But you tweet: “Going to the socks game tonight. Becketts her linkays”

What is a linkay?

So, beyond the obvious reasons of accuracy in what a person is trying to say, the system appears to be quite simple to use. But I wonder – should we consider driving-while-tweeting a social media “do” or a “don’t?”

I have to admit, as one of those people who likes cars and enjoys driving (wait, why are you all backing away slowly?), my first thought was that this might be just one step too far.  I mean, technically, it’s hands-free, so no state or potential federal law would prohibit use of the service while driving.   Most of us can still legally talk on our phones while driving, and most of us still do.  Myself included. But I try to avoid it, and lots of people would tell you to do the same.

So, I can’t help but think that this might be another unecessary distraction from the more-immediately important job at hand.

It kind of reminds me of Scene 34 from the timeless classic Monty Python and The Holy Grail when the knights find Joseph of Aremathea’s writings on the cave wall:

KNIGHT:  What does it say?
  MAYNARD:  It reads, ‘Here may be found the last words of Joseph of
      Aramathea.  He who is valiant and pure of spirit may find the Holy Grail
      in the Castle of uuggggggh’.
  ARTHUR:  What?
  MAYNARD: ‘… the Castle of uuggggggh’.
  BEDEMIR:  What is that?
  MAYNARD:  He must have died while carving it.
  LAUNCELOT:  Oh, come on!
  MAYNARD:  Well, that’s what it says.
  ARTHUR:  Look, if he was dying, he wouldn’t bother to carve ‘aaggggh’.
      He’d just say it!
  MAYNARD:  Well, that’s what’s carved in the rock!
  GALAHAD:  Perhaps he was dictating.

Perhaps he was. What do you think?  To tweet-while-you drive, or not to tweet-while-you-drive?

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