I’m in the process of writing my second assignment on the subject of Twitter. Until I began researching, I had never been near the medium. Now I can’t tell enough people what an exciting, democratising innovation it is.
Through Twitter, I was able to get interviews with 2010 Australian Young Journalist of the Year Latika Bourke who, according to social media analysis done at Tribalytic was Australia’s most influential tweeter on the #ausvotes hashtag during the 2010 federal election. I sent her a quick tweet asking for an interview, she tweeted back in minutes having ‘followed’ me so that she could direct message me and we set up a time.
I followed the same process with the ABC’s chief online political reporter and Walkley Award winner, Annabel Crabb. She’s such a celebrity now that I just couldn’t get to her through the usual channels. Multiple emails to ABC got me nowhere. But one quick tweet and I had the kindly Annabel on the line assisting me with my assignment. As a big fan of Annabel’s writing, it was a pretty exciting moment for me.
My initial assignment on Twitter concerned the layering of tweets into on-screen content on television programs like the ABC’s Q & A. The first time I tried to follow a parallel tweet-stream while watching the on-screen debate I felt like I was being hit in the head with a radio tuned to talk-back. But I got the hang after a couple of times. In the end, it became fun, a real event, and something I would have liked to continue – but with NSW changing over the Summertime, alas, Q & A won’t be screening live to Queensland until March next year. I, along with other northern #qanda fans will be relegated to tweeting to each other as we catch up with the program…but will not enjoy the excitement of competing for on-screen kudos.
Anyway, Q & A generates so much Twitter conversation that it sometimes is still at the top of the Twitter world-wide trending chart 24 hours after it goes to air. And because Q & A actively encourages the twittisphere to engage with the program by selecting tweets to appear onscreen, #qanda tweeters strive to outdo each other for wittiness and publishability.
Which brings me to my point. This morning, I read this article by Jonathan Green in The Drum in which he discusses the king-like demeanour of former Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, which remained unruffled even when a disgruntled protester pitched his shoes at him during last week’s Q & A. His point is that Howard still looks like a man in charge, still exudes a statesman-like presence. And then he reveals that indeed that is to be the theme of this weekend’s The Spectator Australia who will be running the headline, ‘Remember when Australia had a real PM?’
And there it is. That headline was one of the tweets that appeared on-screen during last week’s Q & A. Tweets have managed to move from obscurity, to an ABC on-screen presence, to influencing front page content of serious political media. There is going to be one happy tweeter out there. And 10,000 more who will redouble their efforts to better him.