Like many people on Twitter, I go through periods of finding it distracting or pointless and sometimes even downright unpleasant.
But sometimes I sit back amazed at the power and value of social media and Twitter in particular.
Like this morning.
I awoke early, yet fully rested, and turned to Twitter on my iPad after checking the news.
What a revelation. So many people sharing so much of value. What an extraordinary privilege to be in touch with them and to be able to hear their thoughts, regardless of their location.
Stats guru Nate Silver’s brilliant analysis of the teams in World Cup (he proves what we all know: Brazil are going to win, England will be lucky to get out of their group)
The grim situation in Iraq, as ISIS moves apparently unstoppably towards the capital. (Thanks to various commentators for this.)
… and all this before breakfast!
It is easy to take all this for granted, but when I think back to information flows in the past, it just seems incredible. Whether abroad, so often reliant on the BBC World Service for news, or at home, reading the paper and watching the evening news, insight and analysis was slow and sporadic. Finding something of interest and insight was a matter of chance. Now that information has become virtually free, I am lucky enough to know some smart people on Twitter who will share great stuff and who will also – importantly – sometimes challenge my thinking.
I still read the daily paper, and a range of magazines and yes, I even listen to the World Service still from time to time, but for all its faults I wouldn’t want to be without Twitter as a doorway to an unparalleled range of resources, filtered by some very smart people all over the world.
Ultimately, this is what makes Twitter valuable – the people on it. I’ve been on Twitter for a little over 7 years, but only this morning did I realise I’d been taking the tool and the people I follow for granted. This is my moment to thank them all for the fun, thinking, challenges and resources that they’ve made available over those 7 years. In return, I’ll do my best to share the best of what I come across.