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These days it’s hard to feel optimistic about social media, especially if you’re working in the news industry. But journalist McKay Coppins discovered it’s not all that bad — in fact, it can be quite wonderful. In early June, Coppins went on Twitter to ask for “interesting facts” to tell his two oldest children (aged 6 and 8) before they go to bed. Apparently, his kids had outgrown bedtime stories and were now interested in real-life facts, which is the stuff of serious journalism. Clearly, they take after their father.
Coppins was skeptical about how much interest his tweet would spark, thinking that maybe he would get 10 or 20 responses. But within minutes the suggestions stacked up and by the next morning over 3,000 people had written in, each with their own unique morsel of knowledge. Asha Rangappa wrote: “Your foot is the exact length from the crook of your elbow to your wrist.” Anna wrote: “Humans can process three channels of color (red, green and blue), while mantis shrimps perceive the world through 12 channels of color and can detect UV (ultra violet) and polarized light.” Philip Gourevitch simply told Coppins: “Bananas are berries.” Gasp!
Coppins, a formidable political journalist and staff writer for The Atlantic, was surprised and delighted at the sheer generosity of his Twitter community. “Twitter — sometimes it’s not that bad!” he tweeted out. He even replied to some of his fact-finders. After Sam tweeted a photograph of a coconut covered in stamps and said “You can mail a coconut,” Coppins replied to him: “Used this one tonight!”
Some facts were more popular than others. Michael Gallagher’s “Cleopatra lived closer to the creation of the iPhone than she did to the building of the Great Pyramid” for example, got over 2,000 likes. Did you know that? (The Japan Times)
This article was provided by The Japan Times Alpha.