Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Welcoming the twittering citizen

After David Cameron's attempt at engaging, answering questions via a media blog, perhaps a more innovative and more serious attempt at getting a lot of questions answered is the idea of LibDem London Mayoral candidate Brian Paddick. He is using Twitter, a system that allows very simple statements to be sent, usually describing the 'twitterers' status (Darren Lilleker is at the PSA Conference for example - well actually I am not but you get the idea). These are sent on to followers and they can respond if they choose. In Paddick's case he would be receiving and responding.

The downside is that all questions and answers will be pretty brief, hence questions that require significant detail may be difficult to handle; also it could be hijacked by opponents. But on the upside this is not answering four or five questions but could allow a lot of answers depending on the time devoted (and there is a 5 day period). If handled well it will not only offer the perception of being responsive but show true responsiveness and interactivity and allow Paddick to get a real sense of the temperature and strength of opinion and where the public stand on the issues. But there may be one further problem with this idea, while it seems Paddick may be unlikely to win if we believe polls if a candidate did this and won it would place a heavy burden of expectation on their shoulders. Could you twitter from the Mayor's office or No 10, well yes you could, but would you want to or should you? It is an interesting question and worth thinking whether any citizen should have the right to ask the Mayor, PM or their MP "what are you doing for me right now?".

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