The vandals took the handle

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Are Twitter templates only reflecting a fading era?

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Hands up those who read newsletters mailed from your local politicians.

Ha! I thought so.

Now, who reads government advertisements in newspapers?

Hmmmm.

That second question should probably have been “who still reads newspapers”, however the point of all this is still the same.

Bureaucrats simply transferring their old newsletter and marketing ‘thinking’ to the micro-blogger, Twitter, seems to me like two steps forward and one-and-a-half steps back.

The Twitter templates unveiled this week by the UK and US governments underwhelmed me, despite their complexity.  Fair enough, they get top marks for acknowledging that the times are a changing around them (governments here in Australia are a lot slower to see the bleeding obvious)

However, I believe that both the UK and US boffins either missed the point or refused to recognise that the change is largely about a new type of consultation – placing real and effective power in the hands of citizens, not simply maintaining a status quo via a new tool.

It will be great to see institutions Twittering, but not with an odour of red tape and unsubtle spin. For example, ‘clearing’ individual tweets to ensure they push the current positive message and reinforce the day’s media releases, may quickly destroy credibility and render the Twittering pointless.

One of the reasons we have something like Twitter is because the power of the digital age allows people to have a say  – and not just at election time.

Systems like Twitter are helping connect digital communities  of people with different interests, backgrounds and ages.  The hope of many is that the resulting conversations will bring greater resources, energy, aspirations and thinking to some of the social challenges that currently are proving either too big or too hard to solve.

Am I being unreasonably idealistic here – or is the reality that bureaucracies everywhere say only what their masters want to hear.

The changes being rung by social media are too important to become tangled in the business of government.  And, one way or another, the bureaucrats will need to accept that this is not something that they can control in their traditional way.  In fact, it’s all about releasing control.

I’m keen to see what you think?

Ian

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Written by ianandsue

July 29, 2009 at 5:16 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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