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Last night I again took a look at Twitter conversations our host had been involved in the first 24 hours or so of 2013 and again was well impressed. Here for background is what I wrote on the subject on 7th April last year:

... if anyone is interested, take a look where the real names dominated debate is now happening: Twitter. For example, Paul Matthews sharing something from the Climategate 2 emails with Andrew, Josh, Barry Woods, Richard Betts and Tamsin Edwards two days ago. I've been watching how Andrew has increasingly engaged in important debate with the 'other side' not within discussion threads on Bishop Hill but 'over there' in the tweet-o-sphere where pseudonymity is in practice far reduced. This is what is already happening.

What I found last night involved Brian Cox to a degree that surprised and delighted me. Roughly in reverse chronological order, try the following streams:

-- One begun by Philip Cosson with very positive contributions from Bishop Hill, Brian Cox, Richard Betts and (this morning) Barry Woods. Wow
-- A second with the Bish making a key point on bottom-up processes, not top-down
-- The Bish on David Whitehouse's response getting encouraging feedback from Cox and from Paul Hudson
-- Cox and the Bish pretty much agreeing on the line between politics and science
-- Cox answers the Bish's Is this a step back from your RTS lecture position?
-- Bish: It's difficult to maintain sci focus when dissenters told views are illegitimate because (allegedly) politically motivated with Ben Pile following up with someone unknown to me
-- Maurizio Morabito fed up but encouraged by the Bish - and as the rest of the day showed, our host was dead right to counsel patience.

Utterly outstanding in every way. Congratulations Andrew and respect Brian Cox, Richard Betts and Tamsin Edwards. I hope Cox's forthcoming trip to the Met Office continues to break down barriers in the way key scientists think about climate dissenters.

So what are the implications of such important stuff now being discussed - sometimes for the first time - on Twitter? As far as I'm concerned any aspect, positive or negative, can be touched on here. And, if people want to consider it, my point from April seems to stand: ten protagonists and only one using a nym where I didn't at once know the name of the tweeter. (I know Climate Resistance is Ben Pile. Your mileage on that may vary.) How many threads on Bishop Hill have 90% real people in that sense? Is that part of what is making the difference here?

Jan 2, 2013 at 9:24 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Yes, Richard, but these are players, and I don't want to be a player. If I were there, of course, you would know my real name too, if you caught it in the Oxford pub. But I find twitter a most unfriendly medium for keeping up wth a debate. Too curt, too ephemeral. The advantages it has are more to do with immediacy and confrontation. Not identity. I regret that it has become an alternative venue for debates I wish could be here.

Jan 2, 2013 at 9:47 AM | Registered Commenterrhoda

Rhoda: I confess that I didn't catch your name or it didn't stick. I make a rotten real names bigot for that and many other reasons :) But on the serious side you're suggesting a loss to Bishop Hill here and I agree with you. Twitter isn't going away, nor is our host's brilliant use of it (and I've said the same to his face, via email). This is a space to mull over the implications.

Jan 2, 2013 at 10:01 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Richard Drake
I found those twitter threads utterly pointless even when I could understand what they were on about.
I have a personal reason to feel peeved about them, since they seemed to be about Cox’s recent editorial in the Statesman. I put in a certain amount of time and energy replying on the New Statesman thread to his ill-considered warning that we sceptics risked being “disenfranchised”, as did BH regular Jeremy Poynton. Not a word of reply from Cox or Ince. Just a barrage of low energy trolling.
Tweeting is for pantomime audiences.

Oh yes it is.

Jan 2, 2013 at 1:00 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Geoff: interesting additional data point - or two data points, assuming we can assume roughly the same values in each dimension for Jeremy Poynton. I haven't been a great tweeter or listener to tweet streams myself since the aftermath of the Iranian election in June 2009 - when it was truly gripping. I didn't invest anything in the New Statesman article, unlike you. I wouldn't have dreamed even of reading it, I mean. I well understand your annoyance given what you put in. But something about Twitter - or the social ethos that has grown up around Twitter in the areas the Bish is interested in, perhaps - seems to me to be working in bringing people together in a way that blogs (including a NS thread) don't.

I don't know the answers here but I'm trying to be empirical. I accept this set of threads isn't enough to support a full theory. We'll have to wait and see what if any changes can be detected from Brian Cox as a result of this process, including his visit to Tamsin and Richard.

Jan 2, 2013 at 2:06 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Twitter has been fantastic in meeting people and building social connections.
Were it not for Twitter chats for over 2 yrs, that Cox article might have been in the relatively toned down version we saw.
Small steps, even though many would like to see a downfall/Berlin wall moment for cagw.
Ie Geoff email me about it

I made a similar comment on BBC esrthwatch nearly 3 yrs ago, if the most vocal git to know each other, them neither side could fall back on the cliched version, if how they thought about the other.
Hard to call someone a fossil field funded denier, when y've met had lunch, etc and a chat. Equally, majesty you feel uncomfortable when colleagues then use language in an unthinking way, and you might say something. Barring a tipping point scandal, or similar event, a gradual cultural shift, and fading away if CAGW is now inevitable.
Sadly costing billions in the EU and UK, because if political momentum
7 yrs time it will be 2020 and if temps are not warming rapidly by then.. then what for CAGW model projections if 2C by 2020.

I do think worth perservering with new left project, etc.. previously might have been deleted, now that people are known, ie via Twitter other media, harder to get deleted, as they know real people

Jan 2, 2013 at 2:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

I don't get on with Twitter, the threading is too loose for my taste. It's more like a loud party, with people shouting soundbites in all directions. Well done to those using it for good purpose, though.

My biggest gripe with it is the lack of persistence of the conversation - I know they are all 'there' in the background, but it's not easy to browse or categorise. If good stuff is being said and done, I don't see it, and it's vanishing as fast as it's being generated.

I wonder if there's a market for a data mining tool for Twitter which turns them all into a forum style record... aha, a spring project for me I wonder ;)

Jan 2, 2013 at 2:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

Read in the above, might = might not
Actually definitely not.
Twitter, or the social interactions bcos of Twitter did make a difference.

Jan 2, 2013 at 2:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Just broke my new years resolution for checking for typos :(

Still can't beat mistyping 'test', in an email to the 'boss, hitting w, next and and instead of e, and similarly hitting a instead if s :(

Typing the smartphone keyboard blues

Jan 2, 2013 at 2:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Barry Woods

Twitter has been fantastic in meeting people and building social connections.
Were it not for Twitter chats for over 2 yrs, that Cox article might [not] have been in the relatively toned down version we saw.

It was toned down to hide the message: “You risk being disenfranchised” = “we are going to ignore you”
Hard to call someone a fossil field funded denier, when y've met had lunch, etc and a chat.
Well, agreed. If Brian Cox or Alice Bell want to invite me out for a candlelit dinner, I promise to be polite and not call them names. But they don’t need twitter for that.


It's more like a loud party, with people shouting soundbites in all directions.
Agreed. Tweeting is cheep trills - for the birds.
Your data mining tool idea is brilliant. Biographers would pay for that.

Jan 2, 2013 at 3:25 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

The good thing about twitter is that you get more genuine interaction, as illustrated by Richard's examples. Brian Cox is unlikely to comment here at BH, and didnt respond to any comments on the NS thread, but will respond to tweets from BH and Ben. Also, as Barry says, you make many new interesting contacts outside the groupthink of your own favourite blog. The 140 char limit is sometimes a blessing rather than a curse, as it avoids the lengthy tedious rambling arguments (see what happened to the NS thread, or any post at Climate Etc).

I had a look at my followers the other day and I have 7 climate scientists and 3 climate sci PhD students following me. BH has about 20 climate scientists following him.

I would encourage people to give it a go. TBYJ, there is a tool called 'storify' for pulling tweets into a more coherent thread, but I've never used it.

Jan 2, 2013 at 4:02 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

2 of my first followers were Richard Betts and UFO secrets !!

and currently an across the spectrum mix, including Paul Erlich, Dr Katie Hayhoe, right across to the other side of the debate..
email me Geoff, if you want a less cryptic explanation.. with respect to the New Statesmen, whilst the author were silent, personally Eric came across off very badly, vs the 'sceptics', whilst the author were silent, they may not be unaware.

whilst the Lewandowsky's and Corner's are no doubt beyond reach.. those less involved may not.. Dr Brian Cox, cheerfully tweeting/recommending an event with Dr Harrison Schmitt a little while back, cheerfully oblivious, that Harrison also down in the Desmogblog deniars Disinformation database and smeared politically by the 'warmest' side. ie Cox is 'ignorant' of much of the issues, and politely explaining them cannot hurt. ie Harrison is very possibly the Heartland member that Peter Gleick posed as, whist phishing Heartland. and Tamsin can explain about hers vs Peter's style of communicating climate science to Brian !!

Jan 2, 2013 at 4:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

geoff without twitter, we would not be even talking to Alice Bell, etc.
and Peter Gleick, some of th ebest blogs articles have come about because of twitter, not least this one..

which led to this:

Jan 2, 2013 at 4:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Same problem as TBY - too loosely threaded. (Also silly-sounding action descriptors - 'tweeting', 'tweeted' etc, but that can't be helped I guess). Sometimes I see an interesting lead from a tweet. I can't follow through the train because,.. it leads nowhere.

Twitter has been very revealing, for instance, in showing Michael Mann's pattern of thinking.

Jan 2, 2013 at 4:59 PM | Registered Commentershub

By a strange coincidence (unless RD has some inside info) WUWT has just put up a post encouraging people to join twitter and facebook.

[I learnt about this, of course, through twitter.]

Jan 2, 2013 at 5:23 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

Thanks Paul Matthews for the link to WUWT. The article ends with this message from a reader:

Just had the weirdest thing happen. I posted a very mild comment on Michael Mann”s FB page ... I came back to edit the comment and I saw that I am blocked from his page. He only wants people who agree with him to post.
I don’t aim to be friends with Brian Cox or Michael Mann. I want them to explain their position, (before getting down on their knees in front of Martin Durkin and begging his forgiveness of course).

Jan 2, 2013 at 7:52 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Geoff - the have to talk to you first and know you (and importantly - trust you).... before willing to engage and explain
random people demanding things doesn't work.

civil chats on twitter can (not in Mann's case) can lead to this.

tamsin used to think sceptics are deniers (creationist type) had never met any/talked to any. for example....

Jan 2, 2013 at 8:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

bigyin - the indexing stuff is done with hashtags eg #BigFatMetaphors

Jan 2, 2013 at 9:37 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

Barry Woods
If it works - fine. Good luck. By “works” I mean “leads to a proper dialogue”. This happened with Adam Corner, and it looks as if it might happen with Alice Bell at New Left Review. I tend to think this is because the initial contact was complex and potentially of some mutual benefit to both sides. If they want to ignore you, they can ignore ten words as easily as ten sentences.
Yes, please send your less cryptic explanation!

Jan 2, 2013 at 9:52 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

"The good thing about twitter is that you get more genuine interaction"

unless Barry Woods's thumbs are involved, whereupon you get engaqed in crypto analysis. Please Barry, for banything longer than 10 characters, use a proper keyboard #barry'sbadtyping

Jan 2, 2013 at 9:57 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

No inside info, Paul, just my innate sense when I read this stuff from the first day of the year that it was an important development. Good to hear that WUWT is getting with the program :)

Jan 3, 2013 at 7:54 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Just as I wrote yesterday - Mann has simply revealed too much of his character, much to his detriment, via Facebook and Twitter. It is one of those 'How my life was ruined by Facebook' stories, because, in his earlier days, Mann was just a shadowy authoritative science figure working from the lab and one knew him but through his work (i.e., the hockey stick). Now, since he starting rolling in the mud with the pigs and the deniers on Facebook, one gets to see who he really is through his own words and eyes. Can anyone honestly Mann's tweets and retain any fear for this towering intellect?

What is more, Mann has had to resort to extensive Skepticalscience-style rewriting of history of his Facebook pages.

Read and weep, warmies.

Jan 3, 2013 at 12:14 PM | Registered Commentershub

Can recommend that link. Hope Mark Steyn's lawyers have seen it aswell

Jan 3, 2013 at 2:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Agree with Barry, that looks very useful Shub. And something that could not possibly be communicated in tweet form except afterwards, to point people to it. I also think you're right that Mann's attempts to go social have backfired - and this to me is another strength of these media. (Though, like Stephen Fry, I much prefer Twitter to Facebook personally.)

We should though distinguish between the main post of a blog like QTCV, Pointman's, WUWT or Bishop Hill (four that came to mind of different levels of interaction but sizeable, weighty posts) and the interaction that may follow. Paul surely hits on something in saying that only having 140 characters can be a real advantage in ruling out wind-baggery. This isn't just theory - one can see people interacting on Twitter who never have on blogs. There have to be reasons.

Jan 3, 2013 at 3:45 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Twitter iz jus boorgwah txtin, innit.

Jan 3, 2013 at 6:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterJiminy Cricket