Tag Archives: Twitter

Social Media Makes History…or Lincoln’s Wearing Pink Underwear

It’s an undeniable fact, sometimes a sad one, that the evolution of communication technology has led to what I call the cult of instant mass personalization.  I was on a social media site the other day and someone was posting, about every couple hours, what they were eating, and how at this point in the day a certain company’s French fries tasted better than another’s. It got me thinking: what a perverted sense of history we must have. We now live in a world where we know everything about everyone in real time. Or actually, we know what people want us to know, and we know what we think they are, but we really don’t know anything at all. We just have lots of mostly useless information. Maybe too much sometimes. But this info – it’s really personal, but now it’s out there for the world to see, and it’s locked away in someone’s servers for eternity. It kind of changes the definition of history in the making, when you think about it.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not preaching – I’m as guilty as the next person. I’m out there putting my best face, or facebook as the pun goes, forward. One look at my posts and you’ll see I’m caught in the wave, too. But every once in a while it’s nice to sit on shore and look at the churning sea of communications and kind of take it all in. I wonder if anyone knows how to talk to each other anymore, or if I put myself in a room with 15 other people, had a conversation and we all got text messages at the same time, if we’d all reach first and then talk later? (I know I would).  I wonder if we’d say half the things we say (or, I mean, write) if we actually had to say them to someone’s face, rather then post them anonymously like some kind of rhetorical voyeur for all the world to see? Would someone really go out of their way to tell me that they had a really bad ingrown toenail, or maybe by the time we got face-to-face, some of this stuff would become irrelevant? I wonder if history will be changed by this constant stream of noise?

What would it have been like if social media existed, say, during the Civil War?

  •  We’ve been marching 4 days and my feet r killing me! What I wouldn’t do for comfy shoes.
  • RT: Lee says we’re outta here. Does that mean I have to pack? I have a game on Sunday…
  • My tent mate is an a-hole. Snores like a bear. I’m going to stuff him like a turkey if he doesn’t stop.
  • @hunkymusket: My tent mate is a hunk. His snore is cute. I’m going to stuff him like a turkey if I get the chance. tee hee 🙂
  • @G’Burg, Lil RoundTop: This guy Chamberlin might be smart, but he’s annoying as hell. If I don’t get off this hill soon I’m going to shoot someone! Ha ha ha LOL.
  • Wow, that guy Lincoln is tall! I can’t hear him, but I sure can see him. It doesn’t matter. No one will remember what he says here anyway. Politicians – they’re all the same. blah, blah, blah ,G’burg, blah, blah, blah, dead people. Hey, I think he’s wearing pink briefs!
  • Hey look, there’s a black guy. Good reminder of what we r
    fighting 4. 🙂
  • I’m craving mutton. God, I’m hungry. I just ate grass. It’s gross, but it’s high in fiber. Yum.
  • “Four score,” who talks like that? This is nuts. GTG, commander just shot me a look.
  • I got a #boil on my foot yesterday. It’s leaking like crazy. Looks like I have to take a bath in the river today. Oh joy.
  • On battlefield. Jones just went down. Guts everywhere. So many screaming in pain. Place is burning like hell. All I can think about is seeing Sarah naked in the shower. Isn’t that sick?
  • Sitting here on this hill. Ready to take the enemy by surprise. Boy are they going to be shocked. Oh God…ah, darn, that hurts. Just got shot. Guess they have Twitter, too!

Something to think about…

— Jeff Kimball


Using Twitter in Grassroots Political Demonstrations

Iranian Elections and Twitter

Cartoon by Ian D. Marsden

It’s kind of odd  when we  think of how this little web application called Twitter can actually have a role in politics. When I say little, I mean in terms of how much one can write on it… just 140 characters… that’s it. Most politicians couldn’t ask for a contribution in less than 140 characters.

To give us context, the average cell phone call is 3 minutes and 15 seconds; Twitter messages (Tweets) can only be as long as this sentence.

So, what is the political importance of this? The answer is not much in terms of practical traditional big media campaigning. However, for grass roots campaigning and protesting this is a huge game changer. Think of it this way… Cell phones are ubiquitous. Almost every cell phone sold today has the basic SMS text capability. This was the lowest common denominator that Twitter was designed for. Twitter supports the 140 character limit that cell phones have. This means the cell phone, which traditionally has been one-to-one communication, now becomes a powerful mass communication tool.

Now, as an example, let’s say you have some sort of demonstration to get legislation that legalizes marijuana (easy now… just an example). The first thing you as the organizer does is try to rally some support. You make calls, get a website and/or blog and start your outreach to get people to come to the demonstration that support your views.

Now you add Twitter to this mix and this is what happens:


Demonstrations require preparation.

  1. You create a Twitter account. Let’s say @PotParty
  2. Then you would want to promote a hash tag (#). This is used to flag all conversation related to your demonstration. Let’s say we use #DCPot. You want this to be small so it is easy to add to your Tweet and doesn’t use up valuable characters.
  3. Add your Twitter account name and hash tag to any blogs, emails or other communication tools that you use.
  4. Start to Tweet using your account and refer to the hash tag. When you Tweet, you are using Twitter to send messages to followers. For instance, you may say “Save the Date – July 4th March on Washington to Legalize Pot #DCPot Please RT. (The “Please RT” at the end politely asks others to “Re-Tweet” the post you made)
  5. Repeat step 4 with different messages and information that is relevant.
  6. Re-Tweet other relevant Tweets… it builds community respect and people tend to return the love.
  7. Search various terms on http://search.twitter.com that have to do with your issue. As you find relevant “Tweets” from others, follow them. Following someone means that you will get their messages as part of your “home timeline”.  Your home page on Twitter shows you all the Tweets of the people you are “following”. Think of this as a ticker tape service with Tweets instead of stock prices.

As your activities pick up on Twitter, you may want to use Twitter tools such as TweetDeck which provide a richer and more powerful Twitter interface. Once you get momentum, you will find that people start to follow you and use your hash tag in Tweets about your demonstration. This will build on itself and if you do your outreach effectively, things will reach a tipping point in which the velocity of follows and hash tag uses exponentially increases before the demonstration.

Just prior to the event, encourage your followers and others who plan on attending the demonstration to follow with “Device Updates ON”. This means that when you send a Tweet, they will get this delivered to whichever mobile device they define Twitter to send them to. Most people will use their cell phone. This will be critical at the demonstration for it allows you to communicate via your cell phone to the hundreds or thousands of people who are looking to you for leadership and direction at the demonstration.

Like with any open communication platform, you will be opening yourself to having as many people as possible tap into your communication. Keep this in mind as you Tweet. Assume it will be read by both your fans and those that are counter to your position.

At the Demonstration

This is where Twitter becomes invaluable. Twitter becomes your personal bullhorn without the horn. Twitter supports the ability for you to send a text message (SMS) from your phone. This message will then automatically get sent to ALL of your followers who have Device Updates ON. If you did your job right, you now have hundreds or thousands of people who get direction from you directly on their cell phone. Use this to tell people where to go, what to do, what to say etc. It is a powerful way to lead the participants of the demonstration in such a way that to the onlooker, the crowd seems to have one mind and support your goals in the demonstration. Where other demonstrations fail to gel due to lack of unity, Twitter can help insure that your followers get the direction you are giving.

Twitter is a powerful tool, but it is just a tool. The effectiveness or ineffectiveness of this tool is largely up to the organizers that use it. One of the most powerful examples of Twitter use in demonstrations was the demonstrations that took place in Iran after the Presidential election. While Twitter was used to get information out to the world, it was also an effective organizing tool for the demonstrations.

If you have any examples of how you have used Twitter at a political demonstration, share it in the comments below. Happy Twittering!

If you would like to follow me, I am @glenng. We also have a Twitter account for the show which is @politalkpodcast.

Please Tweet this blog post.


Iran Election Protests Take Place, Tear Gas Used

Despite warnings from Iran’s Supreme Leader, Iranians in Tehran took to the streets on Saturday in protest of the recent presidential election. While there is a media ban on foreign media, Twitter reports and video uploaded to YouTube suggest that tear gas is being used to disperse crowds.

Watch Video Below Glenn Posted…

I sat down tonight thinking of writing eloquently about the fissures developing in Iran, about an election stolen, about the emerging voice of people and the transformation nature of social media, but then I watched the video Glenn posted yesterday. It is, quite simply, one of the most powerful things I have ever seen. Tragically sad, unnerving…if it doesn’t make you think, move you in some way, then you shouldn’t be reading this blog or listening to our Podcasts. As was the case at Kent State or at marches during the Civil Rights movement here in the US, as was the case in Ireland, as is the case all around the world, an individual’s right to speak his/her mind should be met with dialogue, never be silenced by a gun. PLEASE watch the video posted below. — Jeff

The Iranian Twitter Revolution

CC - Flickr User Hamed Saber

CC - Flickr User Hamed Saber

A revolution could now be unfolding in Iran. It is not your traditional  revolution over taxation without representation or overthrowing a monarchy. No, this one is about protest of a people who believe that their election was hijacked by an incumbent politician. Unlike past revolutions, this one is using technology to tell the world what is going on… as it happens. On June 12, 2009, Iran held its tenth presidential election. Hours after the polls closed, it was announced that presidential incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had won the election with 66% of the votes cast, and that challenger and former Prime Minister Mir-Hossein Mousavi had received 33% of the votes cast. Almost immediately, protests began to form in major cities in Iran and other countries. The Iranian government shut down cell phone communication to limit the ability of people to communicate and send SMS text to each other. This severely hampered early reporting from major news outlets as it appeared to be a news blackout from within Iran to the outside world.

However, the short form messaging Internet application called Twitter has become a major source of communication for protesters and their supporters both inside and outside of Iran. The Twitter stream of messages is unregulated and unfiltered coming from people around the world. Some Twitter members have changed their profile location and timezone to match Tehran, Iran in a show of solidarity and for some. For others, it is intended to throw off any Iranian government attempt to track down in-country protesters. How effective this is, remains to be seen.

The challenge with any unfiltered message is that information and mis-information travels along the same path and can take on the same level of credibility. Understanding that, the discerning reader can at least get a sense of what people are feeling in the middle of this historic event.

To observe history in the making, use the following links for Twitter Search queries:

Additionally, one blog called Networked Culture has published a set of guidelines for people who want to help support the protests via Twitter.

Networked Culture

Take the time to explore this new vehicle for public expression. Twitter inadvertently may just change the course of human events by engaging an audience far beyond the affected people.

What is happening in Tehran, Iran? – Read it as it happens on Twitter

Twitter Search for Tehran

Twitter Search for Tehran

Want to find out what is happening in Tehran Iran over the election? You can find out for yourself by using Twitter. With Twitter, you can see what people in Tehran are saying about things. Just click here to get a search for “Tweets” that are coming from within 15 miles of Tehran.

It is amazing. You can read what is happening from the people who are there and experiencing the political unrest. Social Media tools like this can be a game changer for political movements.

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