Friday, 4 June 2010

Sometimes I love the internet

Not just because @floopily yesterday went shopping from a punt on the Cam via his iPhone. That's an incredible kind of magic. But not what really amazes me. What I love is that today I tweeted my MP (the wonderful @julianhuppert) about a high court case I'd found out about via twitter. He sent me a message back to say he would ask the Secretary of State a question on the subject. I passed this on to one of the eminent lawyers involved with the case (the truly great @JackOfKent), who has just now contacted my MP to see what more can be done on the issue.

The internet makes this kind of democracy possible. The press have a great history of telling the world what has happened. But they dont have the power to listen, only to talk. The old model of the minister making a speech that is re-packaged and discussed within the media before being re-broadcast to everyone else has competition. Now communication with MPs and ministers is instant and more importantly, public. If I write a letter, or even an email to my MP they can fob me off with a non-answer. But in the public forum of social media, everything you say will be picked up by someone. On the internet the skeptical community, the pro-Palestinian community, the LGBT community, to name but a few, can be far more powerfully united and speak as a connected voice much more clearly than single individuals.

The world of twitter is fantastically interconnected. We can now really speak to MPs as a community in a much more direct and powerful way that was ever possible before. Not of course that there's anything wrong with going to a constituency office or writing a letter. But the ability to unite behind an idea, twitter's ability to generate hashtags to form what are essentially ad hoc lobbying groups, whilst potentially dangerous, is a fantastic tool for good if used right.

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