30 celebrities that will make Twitter famous

TwitterSlowly but surely, Twitter is seeping into the public consciousness. I don’t think there’s any doubt that 2009 will see the service receive attention similar to that enjoyed by Facebook, so long as new users are prepared to trial the service properly.

Because the singular challenge faced by new users is a fundamental one; just what is the point, exactly?

Those who join up to the service in 2009 won’t be early adopters wrapped up in the minutiae of social media. Whereas Facebook offers instant gratification with recognisable features like profiles, galleries and video, Twitter’s proposition can appear barren and lonely. It can takes weeks or even months to feel out Twitter and its true value, until you’re following a few dozen users, and being followed by a similar number.

Although I joined in October 2007, it didn’t click with me for nearly a year. Once I was following around 50 people – users with similar interests and professions, users living locally – my account sprang to life with conversations and debates zipping back and forth, breaking news, links to news articles, research and tools. I’m using Twitter more than Facebook now; I’m exposed to a far more active stream of useful and relevant information. Plenty of it is inane rambling – Moore’s Law has seen technology reduce small talk to quantum chatter – but plenty more is thought provoking, fun and useful.

So how will Twitter break into the mainstream? It’s already happening, but in a very different manner to Facebook. While news organisations are playing their part by promoting Twitter’s ability to report worldwide events within moments, it’s the activity of celebrities that will push the service into the media.

The rich and famous already embracing the service are its high-profile ambassadors; hundreds of thousands of users are already eavesdropping in on their lives and in many cases, contributing to them. Unlike Facebook, the essence of Twitter isn’t about private communication within small groups of friends and family; in fact Twitter is not dissimilar to radio – capable of broadcasting to the masses but retaining the ability to adopt a meaningful two-way conversation and intimate one-to-one relationship.

And the mainstream press is beginning to pay attention; both The Daily Mail and The Sun have recently turned the throwaway tweets of Jonathan Ross into major news stories. So what other celebrities are already sharing their thoughts with anyone who cares to read them, including journalists? I’ve dug up a list of 30 famous Twitterers that will help to slowly raise the profile of the site in the coming months. In no particular order:

Luke Wilson Comedy actor who runs with Will Ferrell’s pack, and brother of Owen Wilson

Imogen Heap Grammy nominated singer songwriting gal

Warren Adler Author of Random Hearts and War of the Roses

Richard Branson Perhaps he’s too busy learning how to land a balloon properly to interact with followers, but Branson’s Twitter account is largely a recap of his blog’s RSS feed

Dave Matthews Of The Dave Matthews Band, naturally

John Cleese Officially a national treasure and a very clever man

David H. Lawrence XVII Fans of Heroes (and there are millions of them) will recognise actor Lawrence as delightfully evil Eric Doyle – The Puppet Man – able to control the physical actions of others.

Al Gore The former US Vice-President posts plenty but is yet to enter into the spirit of the service, following just one other user

James Gunn Writer, director and creator of the eye-wateringly funny PG Pornfor people who love everything about Porn… except the sex

William Shatner Yup, the Shat is on Twitter, although he hasn’t quite figured out how to work it yet

MC Hammer This list just keep on getting better, doesn’t it?

Justin Moorhouse Young Kenny in Phoenix Nights and stand-up comedian

Shaquille O’Neal American basketball giant

Jonathan Ross Everything that’s wrong with Britain, in human form. If you’re a reader of the Daily Mail, that is.

Warren Ellis British writer of comics and graphic novels

Greg Grunberg Another actor famous for his role in Heroes as Matt Parkman, although you may know him from such JJ Abrams projects as Lost and Alias

Lance Armstrong Likes yellow jerseys

Barack Obama Seems the US President-elect is a little too pre-occupied to tweet these days

Stephen Fry Fine actor, writer, presenter and all-round bloody good chap; in no small way responsible for raising the public profile of Twitter in the UK

Felicia Day Delicious US actress who I will marry one day, dammit

Britney Spears Not really her, but her web team with the occasional meaningful insight from Spears herself (“I love Japan! I think all the tiny cars are so cute!”)

Andy Murray Like every British tennis professional, we’ll be backing him all the way to the quarter-finals of Wimbledon

Stephen Colbert It certainly reads like the host of the self-titled Colbert Report, but tweets are few and far between

Steve Woziak The other guy who found Apple

Wil Wheaton Celebrated by millions in Stand By Me, despised by an equal number in Star Trek: The Next Generation

Snoop Dog Don’t shizzle his dizzle. Or whatever.

Kevin Rudd The Australian Prime Minister, and tweets as arid as the Northern Territory

Robert Llewellyn You might know him as an author, the presenter of Scrapheap Challenge or as Kryton from Red Dwarf

Bill Gates Strangely, Gates isn’t a big one for Twitter, with barely a dozen tweets in two years

Will Carling The former England rugby captain

As an aside, it’s interesting to note how many of the above are missing the point and power of Twitter, simply echoing RSS feeds and indulging themselves in a one-sided conversation. Meanwhile the likes of Stephen Fry have embraced their communities by following those who follow them, asking for recommendations, replying to individual followers in public etc. By experimenting and exploring Twitter, not only has Fry enriched the lives of thousands of fans with minimal effort, he appears to have become infinitely more accessible to fans.

Twitter isn’t simply about communication or community, but perception and influence, and that’s why it’ll shine bright in 2009. Finally, it’d be entirely remiss of me to leave without mentioning you can follow me on Twitter here and Never Odd Or Even here. Paul

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