Wow! Yesterday @KevinRuddPM said “Looking forward to communicating with you on Twitter” and now he’s said “Thanks to everyone for adding me on Twitter”! The Rudd Government really is about fresh thinking! Look!
OK, I’m not going to write a blog post every time the PM tweets something. But this gives you an idea of the scrutiny he’s under. He (or an as-yet-unnamed minion) types eight words and suddenly hundreds of people are a’flutter. Or a’twitter.
Mr Rudd’s first challenge will be to explain why he had over 400 followers last night, and had followed most of them back, but now half of them are gone. It’s probably just a Twitter glitch, but we all Need To Know. Now please. I’m sure the friendly folks at Twitter will respond quickly when they know it’s Australia’s Prime Minister (or an as-yet-unnamed minion) asking. That’s like even more important than Sarah Palin!
Have you ever seen Sarah Palin and Kevin Rudd in the same room? Spooky!
Since my welcome to the PM yesterday, I’ve been thinking about some suitably Prime Ministerial tweets.
Most of us don’t get that classified message each morning telling us where the Prime Minister will be, so it’d be harmless enough to feed us a little information as the day goes by. He could add a personal, reflective note without being a security risk.
“‘Only’ 200 pages to read over breakfast. Now I know why the coffee is free.”
“On way to CBR airport, flying to SYD. Constant travel is the tiring part of the job.”
“Glad to see NSW farmland looking better after the rains. Have farmers started to recover?”
As I said yesterday, Twitter is about just being yourself. Twitter could humanise the role of PM. Make visible the questions in the PM’s mind, like the ones about the farmers, and people will respond. They’ll also understand that Rudd is busy man and won’t respond personally to every reply, but he does need to show that he’s seen what they said.
He could also use Twitter to send (not-so-)subtly coded political messages.
“Meeting Gordon Brown, looking forward to resolving the pensions problem”
“Hoping Conroy’s finished writing his resignation letter”
The folks who write books about political tactics said that one of John Howard’s more successful tricks was using talkback radio to speak over the heads of “the media” and communicate directly with listeners. His mistake was thinking all those bitter, hate-filled time-wasters on the phones were actually representative of Australia now, rather than being an old-fashioned whingefest — the last remnants of a medium almost dead. A bit like Mr Howard himself.
Twitter and other social media tools could allow Rudd to take that tactic to the next level, talking directly over the heads of the talkback hosts, his media minders (read: limiters) and forum moderators to interact directly with The People. A bit like that story of the King going amongst the peasants in disguise, but without the disguise.
He could also use Twitter to listen over the moderators’ heads. If Rudd (or any politician) learned for themselves to use the searching and filtering and analysis tools, they could investigate what they wanted to see, rather than rely on the minions who, let’s face it, are only serving the PM because they want to climb that greasy pole themselves. Would you trust them to give you accurate information if it showed them, personally, in a bad light? I thought not.
There’s a whole essay in there about how politics and government is the last remnant of an age when information was hoarded rather than shared. Us hyperconnected folks know that sharing information is where the power truly lies. That’s the big difference between the industrial age and the post-industrial.
We’re in transition, though. Some organisations get it, some don’t. The open source software community is all about sharing and making the process public — warts and all — and as a result they can deliver a secure operating system like Linux for free when it takes Microsoft hundreds of millions of dollars to come close. The NSW state government couldn’t even roll out Wi-Fi hotspots in Sydney because they wanted to plan it from the top down with similarly top-down centrally-controlled businesses. Wrong tool for the job, people!
But, as I say, another essay for another time.
Both of Kevin Rudd’s tweets so far have been exactly eight words, and eight is a lucky number in Chinese culture. Will the next tweet also be eight words, making it the super-lucky “888” message from Chairman Rudd?
Or, it’s a Full Moon in Spring tonight, the first in Rudd’s time as PM. Maybe this is when he reveals that he’s a super-powered were-robot, and the Twitter account will spew forth the hypnotic trigger-words to activate his army of Iced Vo-Vo-eating slaves. Man, that’d be so cool! Scary though.
Full Moon is at 5.18pm Sydney time.
Bonus Link: The mild-mannered Stephen Collins has unleashed his own super-powers to write Welcome Prime Minister. Now please engage.