19 Of The Smartest People On Twitter This Week

These are some of the people whose tweets got our digital news editor's attention during the past week.

Twitter featured a lot of smart commentary and information this past week, so it was hard for me to curate a limited list of the tweets that caught my attention—I definitely could have made this list longer. Below, I've listed a few of the people I think produced some of the week's most interesting Twitter feeds. I may not always agree with these people—but whether they made me laugh, made me angry, or made me depressed, they definitely got me thinking. All of them are worth a follow.

As the possibility of U.S. military strikes in Syria grew, Princeton professor Imani Perry shared her concerns about what Americans were really talking about:

While the world became more convinced that Assad's regime deployed chemical weapons against his citizens, The Independent's Richard Hall weighed in about how long it took the West to get this close to an intervention in Syria:

Libertarian activist Jayel Aheram took a cynical view:

The writer Joyce Carol Oates offered her take:

Left-wing blogger and commentator Sunny Hundal on the media's coverage of a possible intervention:

More criticism of the media from comedien Jamie Kilstein:

This tweet isn't directly about the media, but it was the result of fierce online criticism of Fast Company—and out of that criticism #SmartBlackWomenOfTwitter, a savvy and successful social media response, was born. Despite the hashtag's success, Aminatou Sow (founder of Tech LadyMafia) made a wry observation about the still-too-narrow limits of the technology behind those powerful tweets:

Entrepreneur Anil Dash took Y Combinator cofounder Paul Graham to task for Graham's recent quote in Inc.: "One quality that's a really bad indication is a CEO with a strong foreign accent":

But venture capitalist Aziz Gilani took a different view:

Comedienne and writer Katie Halper on Joe Walsh's "My Own Dream For America" address:

And MSNBC's Jamil Smith critiqued President Obama's March On Washington anniversary speech:

Business sage Nilofer Merchant shared her hopes and concerns on the march's 50th anniversary as well:

In other news, the New York Times was hacked this week. Columnist Nick Bilton tweeted about the venerable paper's digital takedown:

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal took down its paywall while its competitor's website was under attack. A Guernica staffer cracked:

And this one's from Ryan Teague Beckwith of Digital First Media:

AC360 and its partners did some great work this week on how little money donated to Kids Wish Network actually goes to dying children. I watched closely as Anderson Cooper called the organization out on Twitter (and eventually got a tweet back):

Mattermark CEO Danielle Morrill took a swing at the new Twitter conversations feature:

I have found a lot of good things to read on longform writing platform Medium. But I have to use this post to tell you, Mystery Person Behind The False Medium Parody Twitter Account, that I scrolled through Medium today and often couldn't tell the difference between real Medium headlines, and yours:

And finally, a lovely idea from the Guardian's New York City" bureau boss, as the world lost a great poet:

I've got to add an honorable mention, for his excellent curation skills: Dan Nguyen, head of data at Skift. His Twitter feed is like the Digg homepage—his account is full of smart, worth-it click bait.

These are just a few of the tweets that caught my attention this week. Who were the smartest people on Twitter this past week, according to you? Tell me in the comments section below, please, so I can follow them, too.

[Image: Flickr user Tambako The Jaguar]

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10 Comments

  • Anjali Mullany

    Hi all, thanks for the feedback on this series. A different FC staffer will be writing it each week so your feedback helps! 

    P.S. Let's please be civil to our fellow commenters in this forum. Thanks!

  • Rahul Patel

    It was nice read. After reading I got to know what I missed on Twitter but how does that categorized into smart that I am not able to understand. Can just questioning on a tweet or replying someone with sarcasm/ humour makes one smart ? Not sure about it. 

  • citizenwendy

    Everyone would like to think they might qualify for this distinction. Unfortunately, with consideration to bulk alone, choosing any small number of "smart tweeters" is going to be a monumental task. Those who are relatively infrequent tweeters are likely to go unnoticed as well. As a relatively new Twitter participant, and regular writer, I am constantly frustrated by the character limitation and bastardizations of the language required to attempt to make a point and see that it gets to those intended. Try quoting Thomas Payne AND his relevancy to our Constitution without getting lost in the din of tweets. The only problem with this piece is the title. Should reference tweets, not people. Otherwise, consider replacing smart with insightful or a descriptor that better describes a quality that can be discerned from a tweet. Smart doesn't quite get it.

  • Anthony Reardon

    "Smart" is a loaded term. Nice for titles, but then you get held accountable according to a world of different perspectives. Go with "relative vs. absolute" which you did fine with in your intro and in your summary response.

    On that issue of intelligence, I usually like to ask people how they rate themselves before I go around pointing out some characteristic convenient for my purposes. For instance, I personally take offense at a lot of compliments I receive- usually because I disagree that is the main quality I want to be identified by, that their view was too local to a specific interaction in a given context, or even that I might sense a proxy positioning at my expense. Kind of like why you try to get with your references before you go around telling people what your best qualities are or what you are known for. So, again, it's loaded.

    For fun I sometimes ask people, "On a scale of 1 to 10, how stupid would you say you are?".

    Best, Anthony 

  • Tom

    Clearly Anthony, you find yourself both smart and clever, which partially explains why you may misinterpret someone's comment that "you're such a dick" as a compliment.  I think you've demonstrated that though there are relative standards for classifying someone as "smart", there are absolute standards for what constitutes a douche.

  • Anthony Reardon

    Interesting reply Tom, but I admit not quite sure how to take it. I don't know where you came up with the proposed scenario, but it's a good one. Introducing that as a compliment I might misinterpret could infer you are saying that about me indirectly, but I can appreciate the laconic wit either way. One I had in mind was "always aims to please" which I thought depreciates the "actual intention and merit" to little more than "well meant but lacking substance".

  • Alex

    How is flinging political opinions left and right considered "smart"? I personally fill my Twitter feed with the musings of my friends, college professors, and web developers. I counted maybe three or four intelligent tweets in your list, and needless to say I am disappointed.

  • Anjali Mullany

       These were a few of the people who got me thinking about some of the week's biggest news stories in different ways this week -- I'd love your suggestions re: who I should follow in the week to come. I definitely found this list difficult to curate because I ended up leaving out many of the smart people I encountered this week! I agree it's not definitive.

  • Alex

    I, for one, discovered @Stammy, a Twitter developer/designer, through his observant and tech-centered blog. One of my personal favorite thinkers is @drewdepriest, an adjunct professor at DePaul University and a jack-of-all-trades. Found him through TEDx Windy City.

  • Allyn

    And these comments were particularly smart because...?  Shallow cooments with obvious opinions aren't very smart, though I suppose Twitter sets the bar pretty low.