A few weeks ago I was on Twitter searching for new people to follow. Specifically, I was looking for astronomers and the like. I already follow Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson), Reasons to Believe (@RTB_official), and others, and in a flash of thought one afternoon I decided to seek more space scientists and enthusiasts. In that search I came across Darlene Cavalier (@scicheer) founder of Science Cheerleader.
Just a few days after following Darlene, she tweeted something about Twisst (@twisst). I was unfamiliar, so I investigated. Twisst is the work of a group of journalists, programmers, and scientists who designed a notification service that tweets alerts when the International Space Station is visible from a Twitter user’s location. This was nerdy enough to be cool to me, so I signed up. A recent Twisst tweet alerted me that the ISS would be visible from Charlotte the morning of August 8. So, I woke up early to try and catch a glimpse.
The Twisst alert said the ISS would be visible beginning at 6:08 am, but I wasn’t sure what it would look like or even if I would be able to find the ISS in the sky. Twisst informed me the ISS would appear as a bright star, and sure enough, as I began scanning the horizon with my binoculars, there it was. Through the view of my binoculars, it was unmistakable and stood out clearly against the early morning sky exactly where Twisst said it would be. It was barely visible to the naked eye, but with the binoculars it was bright and beautiful. Seeing it bright against the morning sky was rather thrilling and inspiring.
Of the people I follow on Twitter, I know few of those people outside Twitter. Only 10 at last count (not counting companies/organizations I follow). Most of the people/organizations I follow, I follow because of my interests. Twitter users often hear, “I don’t get Twitter,” from non-Twitter folk. And yeah, I understand. I didn’t get Twitter at first either. I signed up on Twitter in early 2009 but really didn’t start playing with it until last year. I got Twitter when I found I could just follow people with similar interests, which eventually lead me @scicheer, which lead me to Twisst, which lead me to viewing the International Space Station in the sky for the first time. You don’t have to get Twitter. You just have to know what you’re interested in and then find people on Twitter who are interested in the same thing.
Your interests may not be nerdy like many of mine are, or lead you to get up early to gaze at the sky. But you never know what you may discover simply because you follow someone on Twitter with similar interests.