Following anothers tweets

The Twitter universe continues to expand in 2011 – but for new users, perhaps the only necessary Twitter tip is who to begin following.

According to, the 140-character-or-less social network has nearly passed the 200 million accounts mark this month and that number only keeps growing.

That means once newcomers have found and followed all their friends, there remains a large number of comedians, writers and even school resources for them to sift through.

The Oracle helps narrow it down by looking at five categories of Twitter accounts.


After losing his ability to speak to thyroid cancer, film critic Roger Ebert found a new voice online through his blog and constantly updated Twitter account.

Since joining Twitter in October 2009, Ebert has amassed more than 17,000 tweets spanning social commentary, story links and movie reflections on his account, ebertchicago.

Yet Ebert is not the only celebrity worth following on Twitter. After his dismissal from “The Tonight Show,” Conan O’Brien started an entertaining account, conanobrien, amassing more than 2 million followers.

Stephen Colbert’s account StephenAtHome doesn’t have as many followers, but it does boast last year’s most re-tweeted post: “In honor of oil-soaked birds, ‘tweets’ are now ‘gurgles.'”


One surprising byproduct of Twitter is that it has become a training ground for joke-tellers to test their humor with an audience online before going on stage.

This 140-character limit proves exceptionally well for comedians honing their skills in one-liners – Todd Barry’s account toddbarry is a good example. His commentaries on his everyday life always maintain humor, like his August post: “Not sure if there’s an award for ‘hottest woman seen eating Chicken McNuggets on a train,’ but I think I have a nominee.”

Many comedians’ tweets are still of the self-promoting or classic “what I’m doing right now” variety, but the best ones are able to make even these throwaway posts funny.

For instance, a recent tweet on Kyle Kinane’s account kylekinane reads: “Going to the dentist for the first time since the Clinton administration today. Less of a cleaning and more an excavation of a time capsule.”


Twitter’s critics often complain that its brief and constant conversation represents a dumbing down of modern writing, yet more than a few literary figures now use the website.

Certain authors compose tweets that resemble their own writing techniques – whether it’s Tao Lin’s (tao_lin) incomplete, lower-case sentences or Douglas Coupland’s (DougCoupland) tech-savvy and pop-cultural musings.

Others, like Naomi Klein (NaomiAKlein) and Stephen Fry (stephenfry), display their personalities more than their penmanship through their tweets.

Some Twitter accounts even pay tribute to great deceased writers. Kurt_Vonnegut posts quotes from the humanist satirist’s books or own words, while chandlerisms offers the hardboiled one-liners of detective storywriter Raymond Chandler.

USF services

Students can even include their school when deciding whom to follow on Twitter – in fact, Bulls Radio’s Twitter (TheBullsRadio) account has compiled a list of 38 other USF-related accounts.

In today’s troubled post-grad career market, USFemployment offers perhapsone of the more useful Twitter options. This Twitter account alerts users to open jobs on USF’s four campuses, with recent ones ranging from a receptionist to a religious studies instructor.

Another account called USFNewStudent re-tweets messages from school organizations and provides its own notifications about free events on campus with fairly frequent updates.


Of course, Twitter will be modified or even replaced by other software over time, so students interested in the latest gadgets might want to follow some technology feeds, too.

The website TechCrunch’s account of the same name offers constant, almost hourly news updates on technology ranging from smart phones to electric cars.

Often the stories involve Twitter itself – whether it’s the website’s recent blocking in Egypt or the company winning Best Overall Product of 2010 in the TechCrunch-sponsored Crunchies awards.

Even more impressive is tedtalks in its links to’s state-of-the-line technology demos. One recently tweeted video showed a robotic stand-up comedian that tells jokes and responds to audience feedback.