What is the point of Twitter?
Okay, I laughed, that’s how simple I am.
But seriously, this Eastern, Norwegian blogs have been filled with well-written posts about how Twitter can be useful, in a political context. All of these are written in Norwegian, but I will soon explain why I think this is of international interest as well. Here are my favorites: Katcho 2.0 (written by her and several others, shared with a Creative Commons Attribution Share-alike licence), Paul Chaffey, Anders Brenna, Bård Vegar Solhjell (Minister of Education).
The reason for this productive outcry was an opionon piece by a Norwegian professor in political science, Hege Skjeie in the financial newspaper, Dagens Næringsliv. She argues (my translation):
You should keep yourself updated. But still – why do we need to talk about Jens’s (Stoltenberg, Norway’s Prime Minister – who is on Twitter) weekly plans or Helga’s (Pedersen, Minister of Fisheries, here on Twitter) “time squiz”? Social media can open up new political rooms and extend democracy. Or, if we want to, shut off political cloakrooms. But Twitter is not the key. Twitter is just nonsense.
As you probably guessed, the professor is not on Twitter…
I’m already so late in this debate due to my Eastern holiday that I will not go into several details of her piece. But even though I think her Twitter conclusion (nonsense) is ridiculous, I do think she has a point when it comes to what the politicians are tweeting about. Updates about dinner plans and skiing trips are not enriching political discussions (but can give funny personal insights, though). The interesting political discussions (and actions, such as in Moldova) are taking place among people, ordinary people on Twitter. Because the politicans (sorry for speaking in such broad terms here, cause few have impressed me) do still not dare to raise the interesting questions on Twitter:
– Can you give me input on how Norway can become a green economy, after the oil?
– Why is it a mistake or an advantage that Norway is not an EU member?
– What kind of public data should we release first?
– Should I take my hat/purse and leave?
Twitter has become a fantastic listening device into what people are thinking, doing and arguing. The New York Times article that I linked to earlier (kicking baby), demonstrates a bunch of different ways of using Twitter. You can also follow these brainy people to get some new insights about reality.
So far, idea sharing and collaboration are among the most interesting political ways of using Twitter I’ve seen. And if politicians could try to listen in and share political ideas and opinions once in awhile, then we can talk about a new kind of political debate. But at this point, we (the people) have all the fun!
Some examples of political use of Twitter: