Friday, 24 December 2010

Twitter – my electronic Dog and Duck

It is hard to think of a more enlivening part of my year than the Twitter community.

Twitter has become my newswire, my multi-headed devil’s advocate, a field of diamonds for the magpie in me, a source of support, humour, virtual friendship, an electronic Dog and Duck.

Over the year, I’ve been struck by the genius, the humour, the generosity, the temper and the humanity of many more than 140 characters. Some I chat to regularly, some I happen on occasionally, some reciprocally follow me, some I just read and admire. Here are just a few of the people that made my Twitter year (doubtless I’ll add to this over the day).

@ruskin147 The BBC’s tech correspondent and all-round good egg, Rory Cellan-Jones, whose on-going social media story arc takes in a compelling combination of the professional and the personal. Rory and his long-suffering dog Cabbage have the venetian blinds set to illuminate just enough of the life of a 21st century journalist.

@hwallop Harry Wallop, the Telegraph’s Consumer Affairs Editor. A man whose impeccable manners are manifest, and yet he manages to lace his musings with well-placed astringency. Harry understands modern journalism better than most – and is living proof that reciprocity yields more than curmudgeonliness.

@daintyballerina Polymath historian, wit and much, much more. A poet’s eye. Her heart belongs to Mr Lavazza.

@dom_asdapr Dom is living proof that the personal and the professional can be intertwined on Twitter. He works for one of the World’s biggest retailers and yet he manages to tweet both professionally and privately with grace, courtesy, humour and honesty. A role model for businesses that want to work out how to use social media.

@katiefforde Kind hearted witty writer. Katie judged our “Love Amongst the Concrete Cows” romantic short story competition.

@judyastley Judy is ace for all sorts of reasons. Talented, funny, kind and liver of the most interesting life. My number one Scrabble opponent.

@trishaashley Kind-hearted, generous, best-selling author who lives with her mysterious muse in North Wales. Trisha is probably the most community-spirited Twitterer I have come across and does a good line in wry asides.

@clarehr A brilliant eye for the absurd, Clare is very, very funny.

@iamjamesward James is difficult to describe. He’s the sort of person who gets an idea in his head and sees it through to the glorious end. The London Twirls Project and Boring 2010 are just two of James’s creations. If James had lived in mediaeval times he would accelerated the invention of something groundbreaking or he would have been stoned to death.

@rhodri Rhodri is a description-defying polymath. A man cursed or blessed with so many strings to his bow that he can be tugged productively in pretty much any direction. If you want to get to the heart of what’s being said, thought, laughed about, fretted about at any time, Rhodri’s your man. Rhodri is as good at creating stuff as he is at collecting stuff. I’ve never seen Rhodri’s desk, but I can see it.

@buzzin_fly Ben Watt I have never met. His music has been part of the sound track to my life since the early Eighties. He’s a wry tweeter, a twitcher and has been very generous with his time for me this year, contributing an interview to our website. It has been great to get to know him a bit from afar.

@penelopeoverton Well, in my opinion, a damn fine writer and overdue for making her mark on the literary firmament. Only a matter of time.

@sarahsalway A writer and writer’s friend. Generous, good-natured, funny, industrious and appears to have tapped in to some sort of endless energy source.

@katevwilliams Kate is a great writer, too, and a campaigner, and very funny and I like her politics.

@themanwhofell Greg Stekelman defies description. He’s a brilliantly talented artist, writer, critic, poet and he’s been something of a Twitter phenomenon this year. Much of his Twitter output is NSFW, but he has very keen eye and an ability to find the poetry in the mundane and in Masterchef. Try and friend him on Facebook and you’ll see what a great artist he is.

@belgianwaffling I really don’t know much about Belgian, but her tweets at the intersection of humour and pathos are invariably works of art. She writes a very moving blog.

@indiaknight I’m an India watcher. I met her briefly (as you do) at 10 Downing Street last year. Caught up in the exuberance of the occasion, I made, shall we say, a rather paltry impression. She is, though, a Twitter colossus (in the nicest possible way) and is a benchmark (for want of a more poetic term) for how people with strong opinions and influence should navigate social media. The key, I think (and the bit she does well, where so many don’t), is that she sees it as a conversational medium rather than a broadcast medium.

@sarahbrownuk Sarah has had more than most people’s share of change this year. She remains one of the most committed and generous people I have come across, championing on her own or alongside her husband a whole range of incredibly worthwhile causes.

@oldmotherriley Wins the award for the best foursquare updates of the year (“has checked in at the pile of trees” was one, I think). She runs a great antique musical instrument business. I almost bought a ukulele from her (which a colleague strummed at me over the phone) and I have no doubt I’ll flash the plastic at some point soon.

@lucyinglis Georgian historian. Very funny. Long-suffering (at the hands of tourists, City spivs, etc) urban Londoner (I think).

There are many more. This is a work in progress. Happy Christmas everyone.

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