This week research conversation featured Kathy Gill who talks about Twitter and its integration in the classroom context, but her talk went into lessons learned from usage of Twitter by people and specifically by politicians.
Gill’s motivation to research Twitter is derived from attempt to understand how technology impact society. While looking at the presentation Twitter in the Classroom she commented that many have Twitter but don’t use them. Why? too much noise or they don’t care what others do during the day.
This presentation is her introduction to twitter to students: http://wiredpen.com/2009/02/24/intro-to-twitter/
Her insigts from using heavily and teaching Twitter:
1. Twitter is a conversation space not a publication.
2. Disinformation and information can move so rapidly on Twitter, without any easy way to correct it. More problematic the messages ephemeral nature. Since archiving twits is still in its infancy, many of the twits are inaccessible if it is more than two weeks. The case of Iran is interesting – specially the disinformation that came out of Iran and was fed to a large audience according to a specific world view.
3. Twit is not a twit is not a twit – a twit about breakfast is not a twit about a conference or a news item.
4. Twitter has the potential to be a democratizing technology. See her project “The Book” for example. The case of the wineries is a great example to how stakeholders were involved in the discussions.
Politicians: Twitter is a conversation space not a publication
Some of her insights about the elections: in 2008 we came to see politicians who started to use twitter. But there was almost no candidate in 2008 who used twitter as a conversation media, twitted by the politicians. One that she can thing of is Senator Edwards. Once Obama got the nomination, people noticed that twitter exist. But Gill warns that one shouldn’t use it like obama. The Obama Twitter was one-side channel with no interaction. His Twitter was all about “he” and “he”. Same thing happened with Clinton and McCane. the problem is that John McCanes’ twits are all gone now. They deleted all of them. Gill’s lesson from that is that therefore we should try to archive it all because the traditional gatekeepers are gone.
I think that when it comes to public figures, we should definitely find mechanisms to be able to archive them. Politicians have to know that when they twit they are not ‘off record’. The challenge is what happens ethically when you archive also conversations about people who are not public figures? How can we develop ethical mechanisms to allow eternal transparency and accountability and at the same time maintain privacy of individuals?