Magazine article Information Today

My Opinions Have Evolved

Magazine article Information Today

My Opinions Have Evolved

Article excerpt

Politicians do not like to be called "flip-floppers" when they change their minds about a particular issue. After all, it is a label that does have a derisive tone. It connotes someone who alters his or her views in response to public opinion, someone whose convictions are wavering rather than steadfast.

But you and I know that someone who changes his or her mind about something isn't necessarily doing so in response to prevailing beliefs. Quite often, we find ourselves altering our opinions after doing more research, talking to folks with opposing points of view, pondering an issue in depth, or allowing ourselves more exposure to people/places/activities/objects we previously avoided.

It's not flip-flopping if you find that your views have changed after educating yourself. In fact, it could be considered a mark of intelligence that signifies that you are an open-minded person.

The Benefits of Tweeting

OK, let's now turn our thoughts to Twitter.

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I established a Twitter account in 2006, the first year of its existence. I really didn't understand what it was for, but I felt as though I had to sign on because I didn't want people to think I was old or something. Frankly, I wasn't sure it would stick around that long. I didn't use the service very much until 2009, when I noticed that people whose opinions I valued were using it, as were publications I enjoyed reading but could never find the time (or could not actually afford, and I'm talking to YOU, The Economist). I also noticed an increasing number of government and other organizations sharing useful information via Twitter.

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Human nature being what it is, especially where librarians are concerned, the desire to forward links and other tidbits of information could not be suppressed, and so I began to tweet and retweet. Before I knew it, I had 700-plus followers.

Somewhere along the line, I "got it." I had become a filter for other people, just as I had taken to following people, publications, and organizations that I could rely on for breaking news, actionable information, pithy analysis, and the occasional laugh. Due to the 140-character-per-tweet limit, it is easy to scan plenty of information in a very short time. And you can use the list function to pre-organize incoming tweets by topic, source, or whatever.

Twitter has matured as a social technology; corporate America is using it big time. As a result, you can often get customer service or technical support via Twitter. As a matter of fact, you can get answers to just about any type of question since all subject matter experts are on Twitter around the clock. It's a wonderful source of quick updates to breaking news stories, and it's an awesome adjunct to significant real-time events on the television, such as news conferences, crucial playoff games, key episodes of popular programs, and awards shows.

I had Twitter up and running on my iPad while I watched the presidential debates in the fall, which is somewhat ironic considering that I specifically chose to watch the debates on C-SPAN because I didn't want to hear any spin by an endless parade of talking heads on the commercial networks. But I actually enjoyed the diverse, rapid-fire, witty spin on Twitter. And the real-time fact-checking by @PolitiFact and other sources greatly enhanced the experience every single time. …

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