16 August 2012

Twitter - a revelation

There’s so much about modern life I don’t like that I often feel the need to hide underground in mud. But sometimes suddenly something modern is just what you had needed all that time. Cherry-picking is an awful thing to do in science, politics and several other disciplines, but in arranging your own life it’s just the thing to do. So I steer clear from R&B, reality TV, computer games, internet dating (to name a few things), but I do have and appreciate, for instance, an iPhone and iPod. An iPhone allows you to check your mail in otherwise lost time, such as waiting for the printer. And when Google Scholar and Google Maps came out I was instantly convinced. How easy that made things. And now there’s a new star in the firmament: Twitter.

Twitter is a brilliant way of staying up to date. For the non-Twitterers: you can choose to follow (almost) anyone who’s on Twitter too. Some people have locked accounts. But these are rare. So unlike at Facebook, where you can only see the updates of people who have acknowledged a connection with you, you can pick whoever you find interesting, regardless of whether this sentiment is reciprocal. I follow, in random order: people I know, news broadcasters such as newspapers, the BBC and Reuters, geo-bodies like AGU and EGU, climate people, science geeks, opinionated people like Stephen Fry and Michael Moore, and people in power. And that way I know many things that happen almost instantaneous. And yes, I get many messages more than once; if BBC world finds something worth mentioning, the generic BBC might think so too. But that’s a modest drawback. And yes, I have already found myself in the situation where I disagreed with someone, and instead of him offering any arguments he started hurling insults. Oh well. I can do with a thicker skin anyway. 

So what do I get to find out? What Curiosity is up to. What the latest science blogger has produced. That there’s a new, exciting article out in Nature. What the situation is with Assange. Which climate denier has tried to blacken Michael Mann’s name this time. That there is a new way of making scientific data public. If Arctic Sea Ice has reached a new minimum. The latest U-turnof Paul Ryan. And much more of that! I am hooked. And you can even use it as a helpdesk: it’s not unusual people just throw in questions they struggle with. If you have many followers, one of them might have an answer. And if they don’t, they may re-tweet, which makes you question reach an even wider audience. I got offer help when I tweeted about my age modelling frustration. It didn’t solve my issues, but it was heart-lifting anyway! I like Twitter!

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