I learn about news events mostly from Twitter


I had a revelation this morning: I learn about news events mostly from Twitter. This seems obvious, and almost natural, in hindsight. But even three months ago I didn’t expect this.

I grew up on newspapers, like everyone else in my ahem age bracket. By 2002, I was getting more news from web sites, and began relying on RSS feeds in mid-2005. I started using Twitter in 2009.

Here’s the revelation: I still follow a lot of syndication feeds, and I still surf. But I learn about breaking news, and updates to development stories, most often from Twitter.

The tweets might contain a link to a web page (either a primary source, or a secondary source like /.), so measured by word count, I’m not getting most of my information from Twitter. I may read only ~ 20 words via Twitter, and many times that via RSS or a web site. But the news notifications — first learning about something, or learning about a major development in a story — come mostly from Twitter. What’s more, my tweeps’ (my Twitter friends, for you ignoramuses) opinions shape, in part, my own opinions.

This is not something I expected even as recently as a few months ago. I’m not a super-early adopter of personal technology, nor a social media maven. In fact, I can be a curmudgeon about social media “gurus”, multi-tasking, and excessive digital connections. I’m not in the younger demographics normally considered frequent social media users. But on reflection, I find myself among the heaviest Twitter users within my distinguished age group. How odd.

Another oddity is the blurring distinction between learning about an event, absorbing event information, and forming opinions. I taken in more information from a web page or RSS article, as measured by word count. But much of that might be background information not germane to my opinion formation — due to the nature of the event, and to the increasingly watered-down and trivial nature (and the conservative and corporatist bias) of mainstream media news.

This happened one day, and one tweet, at a time. I wonder what my news and information connections will be in another year’s time.

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