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Is Twitter all it’s cracked up to be?

YES
Timothy Barber
ONE of the things I like most about Twitter is its capacity to seriously irk those who’ve barely even looked at it. There are masses of noteworthy websites out there that most people never use, so the fact that Twitter seems to have a particular capacity to raise the hackles of the uninitiated means there must be something to it.

And indeed there is. It’s far more than a platform for celebrities to broadcast their egos to the world, as Ricky Gervais has complained, or a forum for the rest of us to broadcast our own mundane self-interest – though it is both of those. More positively, however, it’s a tool for accessing and exchanging information, and one that is useful whatever your profession or area of interest.

For the large part, that’s why people tweet. Specialist knowledge and opinions expressed, links posted to blogs, articles and sites with relevant information, and the dissemination of these to a wider network through “re-tweeting”. Its simple but powerful search engine gets you the most recent information and conversations on any topic imaginable, and you don’t even have to have an account to use that.

If you’re really prepared to engage with it, rather than merely be entertained by it, Twitter is a useful professional tool. The celeb endorsement has been crucial to its growth, but Twitter is far more layered and interesting than that, if you’re only prepared to find out. @Timtomato

NO
Jeremy Hazlehurst
THERE is enough in modern life to help you waste time. We live in an age of procrastination, in which life is a paradise of fiddling. Twitter is the most effective time-wasting device yet invented by mankind.

It’s always amazing when you read about famous Victorians just how much they managed to pack into their short lives. By the time they reached puberty, they had all discovered the source of the Nile, learned seventeen languages, fought in several wars and become Professor of Trigonometry at Oxford.

Okay, I exaggerate, but look around you and it is clear that modern life, with all the commuting and soap-operas, is designed to stop us doing things of value. Telling people what you had for breakfast is just another lunatic distraction from the real business of living, it’s vandalising your own life. I find it hard to imagine that all the Tweeters will lie on their deathbeds, looking back over their lives and feeling really that they spent their time well, because they once exchanged tweets with Peaches Geldoff about hair extensions.

It is telling that even the high priest of Twitter, Stephen Fry, said that he was going to stop tweeting so that he could finish writing a book. Even he admits that it gets in the way of real work. Let’s see if I can put this in 140 characters: “Twitter is distracting and a total waste of your life. Go out and do something more useful instead.”