Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Twitter and the Political Process

Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 13th June, 2009

TwitterWhereas the Obama campaign last year thrust Facebook into the limelight as the social networking tool of preference for politicans who are cool — or a least care about connecting with the younger generation — Twitter has now vaulted into prime position as the instrument for quick and snappy communication, particularly in the love-hate interface between politics and the media. Though a comparatively late convert to the practice (despite the proselytising of my friend, Stephen Fry), I’ve been finding it hugely useful in recent weeks and have noted how one can enter into dialogue with politicians of other parties as well as with journalists and bloggers of all persuasions, who are quite happy to ‘follow’ one on Twitter, but who might not wish to ask or accept to be one’s Facebook ‘friend’, in case that were seen to be some kind of endorsement. And the same is true in the other direction! Moreover, the 140-character limit, while being constraining, is actually a very useful discipline, and when well-handled, can be as communicative as a Japanese haiku. As a means of posting a news ‘headline’ or a succinct political point, it is matchless.

Putting my journalist’s hat on for a moment, I suppose the event which really awakened me to Twitter’s impact and potential was the popular political movement in Moldova a few months back, when suddenly one could follow what was going on in the streets, as it happened, from among the people taking part. Something very similar has been occuring in Iran over the past couple of days, albeit often from a more partisan standpoint. God knows what the next great communicative breakthrough will be (thought transfer?), but for the time being, Twitter is a wonderful thing!


3 Responses to “Twitter and the Political Process”

  1. By total coincidence I’ve just written a piece about Twitter and politics too!

    I joined Twitter just before the G20 mobilisations in London and was able to follow it as events unfolded. The sad story about Ian Tomlinson was broken on there too.

  2. Twitter provides a range of news that do not make newspapers or TV news. It escapes censorship by omission. I have been surprised how I could cultivate a group of twitterers, groups and individuals, who had similar fields of interest.

  3. […] and conversational politics Posted on June 15, 2009 by Paul Evans Here’s Jonathan Fryer, a Lib-Dem blogger on the way that Twitter can change conversational dynamics and add something new to politics: I’ve been finding it hugely useful in recent weeks and have […]

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