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  1. I was involved with a few early initiatives to use social media as a meaningful way towards better engagement. To me, the method was always primarily a means to an end, but it was always interesting to come across those who seemed to find the digital aspect some kind of end in itself. However, they were always only a (vocal) minority, and one key plus from digital engagement was its ability to give voice to those who, in that so-called “real world” could not offer the views and insights being anonymous, or partly, so, online could give them. These were not people fabricating a persona – I met several eventually – but were people, for example, who didn’t feel they had appropriate freedom of expression where they lived or worked.

    For a while, I used to muse on whether it was more common to follow people on social media for who they were, or for what they said. The huge follower numbers for banal “celebrity” figures suggests many follow the name, not the nuggets, but I’ve never found that satisfactory myself. It’s a) what people say, and b) how they engage that interests me. Perhaps that was why I got irritated yesterday at a utility that berated Twitter users for a lack of gender balance in those they retweeted. If it’s good, and worth a retweet, does it really matter what gender the original sender was? Not to me, though the responses I got from some people whose views I normally respect a great deal were interesting.

    Like most people, I guess, my early Twitter timeline was mostly populated by people I already knew who were using it, plus those who were engaging on interesting topics. From the outset for me, it was always a red-letter day to meet someone in real life who I’d first only encountered as a Twitter connection. The oft-quoted distinction between Twitter and Facebook is, in my view, very well put: “Facebook is full of people you only met for five minutes and never want to meet again, while Twitter is full of people you’ve not yet met, and who you’d like to spend five minutes with.

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