Wednesday, 28 April 2010

What we do and don't know about twitter and the election

If you could put today's media and online coverage in a time capsule, future Martians could find it enormously valuable in understanding the nature of media and political communications in 2010. And if they could get a message back, perhaps the rest of us would be a little bit less confused about it too.

Failing that, here is a excellent incisive and excessively sensible post, written just before the bigotgate story of election 2010 broke, on what we do and don't know about twitter.

Its from Paul Mason of Newsnight, whose ten theses on twitter.
mean he should surely henceforth be known as Professor Mason of the Twitterati.

A couple of snippets:


Twitter has the power to amplify the impact of any political event. Because users create their own social network, by choosing who to follow, Twitter has the potential also to distort the impact of any political event, reinforcing existing political opinions and prejudices. Twitter and 24-hour rolling TV news tend to feed off each other during breakthrough-level mass events, to an extent that has not been properly understood.



Twitter is, at present a) a tool for realtime qualitative research; b) a reliable, but still legally constrained, tool to evade censorship; c) a sporadically effective means for the mass of people to force behaviour changes in the corporately-owned media; d) a highly-inefficient and ultimately self-defeating vehicle for propaganda; e) an effective transmitter of news; f) a collaborative tool for professional journalists.


One of Mason's points is that we need to know much more, but that the necessary information is not easily available. Nick Anstead and Ben O’Loughlin have engaged in one academic project to study the role of the viewertariat on the occasion of Nick Griffin's appearance on BBC Question Time, while tweetminster captures information and raw stats on their blog.

But the post also highlights what might well become a new theme for political reformers - a campaign for greater Twitter transparency.

1 comment:

Francesco Petrarch said...

No doubt, the twittertariat are leading the a social revolution.
Yet like most revolutions, the majority of twitter users, are probably from better off backgrounds and perhaps more educated.