Stephen Fry, Twitter and Me

When you have passed the magical age of 40 everything takes longer: the bike ride to school; remembering what you were walking so purposefully down the corridor for; and figuring out why twitter is so popular.

Why would someone of Stephen Fry’s intellect spend hours of his day ‘micro-blogging’ his every thought and then, even more unbelievably, responding to those of his current 500,000 followers (!?) with some personally significant comment? But he is not alone, the Times recently  listed a series of celebrity twitterers and you can look at some of them below. Recently however, and this may be a creeping rot, I think I’m starting to understand what it’s all about. It’s not to do with having no friends as some suggest, and although it is true that part of its appeal is the connected-ness, there is more to it than that I am sure. Java et al (2007) suggest that twitterers seek and share information and this seems to get closer to the heart of its magic. Ben Nowack suggests in his ‘Semantic Web’ that there is a special synergy from this micro-blog based  information sharing process. In this sense Nowack suggests, Twitter is increasingly replacing not only instant messaging clients, but also social bookmarking sites, interest tracking applications, support forums, email, and (to a certain extent) classical blogs. Clearly connectedness is a large part of its appeal, but the power of Twitter is the incidental information network that it creates, of the “take a look at this…” or” how do I…?” varieties.

I have made a move in understanding that parallels the move from web 1.0 to web 2.0, from believing that websites were amazing to understanding that interactive learning communities are where it’s at. In just the same way that Teachmeet participants run ‘unconferences’ (and make no mistake, when a Teachmeet unconference is held at NCSL, the National College of School Leadership, we are in seriously unexpected or even unchartered territory) may be Twitter is fast becoming the unblog or unsocialnetwork: a paradigmatic shift in our understanding of semantic computing power away from computers and towards people. Hold on to your desk! In the meantime, try some of these for size:

1. Stephen Fry: 98616 followers

Read his Twitter feed at:

Type of celebrity: Comedian, Actor, TV presenter, Wit

Typical Tweet: “600 people went to the theatre, not to to see Oliver but to compete in a paper & chocolate wrapper rustling competition. Others came to cough”

2. Lance Armstrong: 53813

Cyclist, record breaking Tour De France Winner

“Got the Knaggs’ family/kids over here at the house. 6 kids ripping around. It’s madness! Luke and 5 girls. Ha! Have a good weekend everyone!”

3. Britney Spears: 53290

“I love Japan! I think all the tiny cars are so cute! –Britney”

4. Rick Sanchez: 48825

American TV news anchor

“i twitter because i need as a journalist to get what viewers think and say. w/out them i’m just another talking head.they complete me, lol!”

5. Shaquille O’Neill: 46296

Basketball player, Actor

“Anotha sleepless nite, n twitter land, aaaaaggggghhhhhhh, whyyyyyyyyyyyy”

6. John Cleese: 44142

Actor, Comedian

“Thank you everyone for the messages. Remember I am practically dead, barely functional. Your patience is appreciated. Will blog again soon”

7. Jonathan Ross: 43432

Tv Presenter, Comedian

“You can lead a celeb to twitter but you can’t always make them tweet.”

8. Al Gore: 38351

American politician, Former US Vice President, Environmentalist

“I’m advocating a US goal of 100% carbon-free electricity in 10 years. If you are interested in the plan, check today’s NYT op-Ed on it”

9. MC Hammer: 34042


“I appreciate all the love (tweets) of congratulations you sent to me about the Super Bowl commercial (Cash4Gold) …it means a lot..thanks”

10. John Hodgman: 32097


“Desk is clear for the first time since beginning of book tour. Apparently it is made of wood”

11. Jimmy Fallon: 27163

American Comedian

“Just got 4 deli platters from The Daily Show for me and the staff. Classy peeps. Thanks!”

12. Dave Matthews: 24064


“I been playing different guitars. One looks quite a bit like a strat but Rob Cavallo had it made for me (I liked his).”

13. Neil Gaiman: 17705


“Clues you’re twittering too much : during an interesting dream, you think “I must twitter this”, and start looking in dream for your phone.”

14. Philip Schofield: 17291

TV presenter

“Just got the viewing figures for DOI last night, best yet …. 10.9 million. Everyone thrilled with that!! If you watched, thank you.”


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