Who would have thought that Twitter could be an informational and educational tool better than traditional media? That’s the implication of work by Benjamin Gleason, a researcher at Michigan State University. But this notion is based on evidence. The study collected all the Tweets produced about the “Occupy Wall Street” movement and placed them in a database where proper analysis was conducted.
The data shows that there are a wide array of viewpoints expressed and that these represent a much more complete picture of the subject than found in a newspaper. As a result, people could get a better understanding of a topic if they follow it on Twitter than if they rely on mainstream media.
Of course, this rather depends upon the involvement of people on Twitter. If you set up a series of Tweets and chat away about your ideas on a topic, yet no-one else says a word, then the Twitter stream would be biased and much less informative than a newspaper article where the reporter would at least attempt to strike a balance between different sides of the argument.
However, for mainstream topics it could well be worthwhile following the discussions on Twitter to get a better picture of the subject and enhance your understanding.
The easiest way of doing this is with HootSuite, where you can set up a separate stream for each topic you want to follow. Either set up a “search” for the topic or a column for a popular hashtag. That way you will be easily kept updated on the subject and be able to see all the various views.
If the research on Occupy Wall Street is right, then you could well learn more from doing this than if you rely on mainstream magazines to keep you updated on topics.