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Glasgow's tweeters

I KNOW someone who tweets.

Nothing special in that. We all know people who tweet. This bloke likes to think of himself as a man of influence, but I know differently, having just looked at the stats at the top of his page. Taken together, his followers would fit into a small phone kiosk and still be able to swing a cat in relative safety and comfort. My mum probably has more followers. He tweets on a daily basis (though if he believes his colleagues at work don't know what he's up to, he's got another thought coming), and it's thanks to people like him that Glasgow has become the Twitter capital of Britain.

An online research company analysed 148 million tweets from the last quarter of 2012. Some 9.7m of them came from Glasgow, making it the most prolific city on a per-capita basis and narrowly pushing Belfast into second place. As Azeem Azhar, founder of research firm PeerIndex, puts it: "The friendly, chatty demeanour of the average Glaswegian [also] helps." Other factors include the presence of Celtic and Rangers, and an estimated 40% of Glasgow's population being under 30.

Among the Glasgow celebrity tweeters with large followings, and high placings in the firm's peer-influence ratings, are Frankie Boyle, Neil Lennon, Michelle Mone, Nicola Sturgeon, Robert Florence and Greg Hemphill. Boyle is by some distance out in front, with no fewer than 1,265,189 followers (and, incidentally, an impressive 7349 tweets). Neil Lennon (4472 tweets) has 176,565 followers.

Trawling through Twitter is a diverting way of spending an hour or two, and of getting instant reactions to breaking news stories.

When it all gets too much, though, websites such as tweetingtoohard.com ('Where self-important tweets get the recognition they deserve') are a refreshing change. The all-time top tweet there is a three-year-old one that reads: "OMG i was saying how i couldn't afford the gas to fly daddy's jet to the riviera this summer, and this barista totally rolled her eyes at me." It dazes the mind to think how many such tweets have been archived for posterity by America's Library of Congress, which has now catalogued roughly 170 billion public tweets. For all that, if you know where to look and what to avoid, Twitter has become indispensable. Even if you don't have as many followers as you'd like.

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