Twitter And The Financial Marketplace Of Ideas by Lawrence Hamtil, Fortune Financial
“Few, if any, of the great advances in human civilization have come from isolated peoples.” – Thomas Sowell, “Race, Culture, and Equality“
A few years ago, I became dissatisfied with the seemingly rehashed ideas one finds in the usual financial media, and so I became more interested in the sharing of ideas and unique experiences via blogging. I began to read more earnestly the periodic posts of Ben Carlson, Josh Brown, and Eddy Elfenbein, among others. Generally, I would save the posts I thought especially useful, and I eventually developed a considerable archive of great information. It eventually dawned on me that the information I was getting from these blogs was oftentimes much more useful than the information we received from paid subscriptions to periodicals such as The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and others.
As my archive of saved posts accumulated, our firm growth took off, relatively speaking, and we decided to establish a web presence with a blog — a major step for a firm that previously had done little or no marketing. One of the corollaries to this endeavor was to have a Twitter account, which I had noticed was a major tool for idea sharing among financial commentators and analysts. Initially, I resisted this, as I had a preconceived notion of Twitter as a kind of continuous stream of vacuity. But, convinced by others, I decided to give it a shot. It wasn’t long before I started to interact directly on Twitter with the very financial writers whose work I had been reading for so many years.
The result of these interactions, I think it is no hyperbole to say, has been a kind of mini-renaissance for me as far as financial matters are concerned. The reason, of course, is that Twitter’s unique platform allows for it to serve as a “marketplace of ideas.” One person might post a blog with his opinions, and another will respond in kind with perhaps affirming or countering opinions. Aside from the links, the real-time commentary on the ideas presented offers an unfiltered view of high-level financial conversation. A silent observer of the interactions on Twitter can simply sit back and benefit from the idea sharing that is a daily feature, or he can choose to participate and offer insights and experiences of his own.
But the greatest benefit to Twitter, in my opinion, is how it affirms the benefits of the division of labor. As Thomas Sowell put it, “[a]bility in the abstract is one thing, but specific capabilities of doing specific things is what matters economically.” The benefits of this to the financial arena are not as obvious as they are to Leonard Read’s famous pencil, but they are just as real. For example, it is obvious that not any one person can have so many experiences in life that he has learned everything about the myriad aspects of finance. But Twitter allows the user to have access to the research and opinions of so many who work in the various financial fields: research, analysis, banking, financial services, etc. It is access to these resources that has made Twitter a kind of force-multiplier. For example, instead of having to read entire books on how to perform a regression analysis when I haven’t the time, I can interact with those who have done so, and much more skillfully and efficiently than I could have done so trying to reinvent the wheel. In effect, I can advance toward my goals because I am following the work of others.
While I can’t say that Twitter is on par with previous idea-sharing breakthroughs such as the agora or the printing press, I do think it is safe to assert that at least as far as the financial realm is concerned, those who wish to deepen their understanding and broaden their views will continue to see Twitter as a valuable if not indispensable resource to those ends. I can say at least for our firm that we have advanced because we have chosen no longer to live in isolation.
For further reading:
10 Things I Love About Twitter – Ben Carlson
The information provided above is obtained from publicly available sources and it is believed to be reliable. However, no representation or warranty is made as to its accuracy or completeness.
Lawrence Hamtil is a fourteen-year veteran of the financial services industry, having served clients in all aspects of the business during his career, which started in 2002. In 2005, he joined Dennis Wallace of Fortune Financial Services, LLC, becoming, at the time, one of Multi-Financial Securities, Inc’s youngest registered representatives. In 2008, Dennis and Lawrence made the decision to become fully independent by founding their own Registered Investment Advisory (RIA), Fortune Financial Advisors, LLC. He serves clients in the United States and Europe. His financial commentary has been referenced in Barron’s online edition.