What is the point of Twitter? Bruce Hood broadcasts an answer

As you can see from the icons at right, I participate in at least three different social media sites. I post updates about this blog, What’s the Harm stories and my daily Skeptic History facts for other skeptics to read.

I post some material to all three but a different mix of posts to each as appropriate to the features of that site. Those features keep changing, but for a long time I’ve personally preferred Twitter as my main social media conduit. I post the most on Twitter.

One thing I like is that Twitter is dead simple. Facebook seems intent on adding more and more gadgets and features every time I look at it, and often it just seems too much. It’s like the overkill of launching Photoshop just to crop a photo. But Twitter stays with a bare bones feature set. I admire that.

The default public nature of Twitter, where everyone can see all your posts (unless you take action otherwise) is a key to its value. I wrote back in August about how this allowed community action to take place against a spammer that wouldn’t have been nearly as easy on the other services. That action resulted in a police arrest.

This post is nowhere near that (in scope or length). It’s just about how I managed to pay a nice compliment to my girlfriend on national television via the medium of Twitter and the help of some friends. Read on, it’s a fun story.

It started with a tweet sent by Prof. Bruce M. Hood back on December 9:

Not being a resident of England, I had never before heard of the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures. They are a long tradition, and have been given in the past by such luminaries as Michael Faraday, Carl Sagan and Richard Dawkins.

I’d met Prof. Hood when he spoke at The Amazing Meeting 8 in Las Vegas in 2010. He’s a fantastic person, and is doing fascinating research into human psychology and how the mind develops beliefs in the supernatural and so on. His first book which is called SuperSense (in the UK) or The Science of Superstition (in the US) is great reading for skeptics.

I offered up this reply to Tracy King’s retweet of Prof. Hood’s tweet:

It’s absolutely true. We were introduced via a mutual Twitter friend (and former coworker for me) named Ryan Bridges.

I had no idea whether it would be picked, and not knowing precisely how Prof. Hood was going to use this, I sent another reply as well:

I completely missed when he followed up on December 18 with this hint that three had been picked:

Of course, even if I had seen this I still would have had no idea my compliment was among them. But it was, and in the third Christmas Lecture (which aired on BBC4 last Thursday, December 29) he read my compliment on the air. Here’s a screen shot.

Prof. Bruce Hood lecturing

Prof. Bruce M. Hood reading my tweet on BBC4 during the third Royal Instititution Christmas Lecture of 2011.

It’s hard to see in this small capture, but it is the second of the three tweets pictured on the projected screen above him.

Yes, he read my compliment to my girlfriend on national television, where it was seen by at least 1 million people. (A different nation than the one we live in, true, but still).

This exchange followed:

If you are in the UK you can watch it on BBC iPlayer here right now. Everyone else will be able to see it in January here at the Royal Institution’s site. The relevant part is about 50 minutes into the third lecture.

So don’t ever tell me, “Twitter is just people telling each other what they had for lunch.”

And thanks to Prof. Hood! Look for his new book The Self Illusion which comes out soon. If you use Amazon UK you can read a free extract from the book right now via this link.

Oh, and of course, thank you to my lovely, fantastic smart girlfriend Jessica, who still digs me.

One thought on “What is the point of Twitter? Bruce Hood broadcasts an answer

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