Please Twitter, continue to go forth and be trivial

Continue to stream sound and fury signifying nothing.

Twitter imageThere is a problem with the title of this piece of course. That it assumes there is a single if multi-headed multi-hearted multi-limbed multi – you get the picture – beast wandering about called Twitter. Who has a jealous rival in Facebook and an old now near-reclusive one called MySpace. Except non of these organisations – and did I forget Google Plus but that’s just the problem with Google Plus – everyone forgets about Google Plus – are not sinister shadowy corporations recruiting us against our will to partake in their services. We check in of our own will and we can check back out just as sharpish. Most of us so far at least have chosen to stay.

Most it seems taking pot-shots at Twitter and Facebook and the like – I am going to stick with the catch-all term ‘the like’ here as frankly there are an awful lot of social media sites and perhaps by using this term it might persuade you that I am familiar with each and everyone of them when I am in fact familiar with just a few more than the four already mentioned – are those without Twitter followers, without Facebook friends. But granted there are those who entered, tentatively tweeted and suspiciously begrudgingly updated their statuses, decided it was not for them, made their excuses and left. Their disinterest is understood. So is their disdain. What rankles though is the superior attitude – that because it was not for them it should not be for anyone.

I am reflecting on this following a recent article in the New York Times online by one of their correspondents Timothy Egan on their Opinionator Blog. It was called Please Stop Sharing – and I responded with a comment. This comment was published as one of the Top Picks. I know lights should be hidden firmly beneath bushels yet here I am with scant regard for bushels shining said light of mine before your eyes which are now too busy blinking for me to see whether any disapproval in them.

New York Times Top Pick CommentAs an aside and a nod to humility you will note that said comment saw two words ‘the Telephone’ fused together as one idiotic term. Damn New York Times not allowing me to endlessly edit my own comments after they have been published!

Okay that is not actually the reason for this blog piece – well perhaps a little! – rather to respond further to the assertion of this piece that new social media is obsessed with the trivial and peopled by those who being called a moron would be a compliment too.

Timothy Egan’s piece is quite long but certainly not as long as many pieces you will read in the New York Times. The unwritten old-media law is that with more words comes more weight, more gravitas, more authority. And Twitter with its 140 character limit must then by definition be light, frothy and insubstantial.

But there is no correlation with being wordy and being articulate? Of being verbose and being profound?

That it s always necessary to be profound when it is almost never necessary to be profound.

Twitter is an obvious antidote to verbosity. You have to be succinct – though as an aside that does not stop some Twitterers from scattering their thoughts on a subject across multiple tweets – get a blog already! – and with its strict character limit is an encouragement to clarity as much as to triviality.

Dorothy Parker

Dorothy Parker - a tweeter before Twitter?

It is an encouragement too to the aphorism and the epigram – I am sure Oscar Wilde and Dorothy Parker would have been avid tweeters – though perhaps the opportunity to endlessly expound might have tired even their inexhaustible wit.

But even here there is the suggestion that Tweets must all be smart and significant. As if we should never make throwaway or meaningless remarks. Because that is the other undercurrent of pieces like this that writers of the old media live lives of continual high significance uttering spell-binding observations of the human condition in between their tea and toast, cruising the cultural Zeitgeist the rest of their waking hours before their palpitating head hits their pillow weary under the weight of so much existential exercise.

As if triviality and inconsequence were invented along with social media sites themselves. We – I am using the royal we here and I apologise if I have presumed against you and you yourself are one of those worthy hallow souls of the old apparently anti-social media but then I guess I am just a bit surprised to find you here reading this blog of mine – have always had a tendency for the trivial and the throwaway, of noting and commenting on small things as well as monumental things, and Twitter allows it a greater community, to share without restraint. And this will take on all shapes and forms – views that we don’t always hear or like intrude upon our protected worlds – where some would rather live in a world where their views are as echoes of everyone else’s.

But even then, at any time we can retreat and unfollow those whose insanities and inanities don’t match our own insanities and inanities. We can end up indeed in just the same circumspect carefully chosen company as in the non-digital domain. If that’s what we really want.

My response to the New York Times was nothing like this though – indeed the verboseness of this response would have been more fitting in a letter to that august journal in the days before the first spam Email had been sent (a second after the first Email had been sent)…whereas my actual response was succinct, not Tweeting succinct, but as good as.

What is also notable about it is that despite the Top Pick status accorded it, it has not elicited even one response – I would like to think the readers of the NYT were dumbstruck by my own revelatory brilliance and unsettling wit but alas more likely it was met with universal indifference as they stifled a yawn before quickly skipping onto the next – ahem! – non Top Pick comment.

And perhaps ironically, though it has had the recommendation of the Editors of the column it has had no recommendation from its readers. Pah! Perhaps the old asocial media high-bred hacks know better than their Hoi-polloi readers afterall!

Today’s PMQ’s on Twitter – damp squibs and other striking rhetoric

PMQ’s – sound-bites and fury signifying nothing?

I previously posted about the Leveson Inquiry and how it was being reported on by one of the subjects of its inquiry – namely the media. And not by the old media and usual commentariat suspects but by new media and specifically on Twitter – I am not aware the demographics of Twitter but it does seem they are a more representative voice of democracy then those in the employ of our Newspaper and TV media. It is also not just the voice of the people of any one country but of many countries – though not exactly ‘We Are The World’ either rather those of us fortunate enough to have the economic wherewithal to be able to access the world wide web. And in my case it is the English speaking world too as I speak no other language – well leaving aside my less than fluent attempts at French and Spanish!

Cameron at Dispatch BoxThis time I thought I would see how Twitter reports on an an entirely British Event – Prime Minister Question’s or PMQ’s – when the Prime Minister of the day faces questions from members of his own party and the opposition parties – well these days it is Opposition Party and that party being Labour as the other hitherto eternal party of opposition, the Liberal Democrats, is now a member of government, if a coalition one. The Leveson Inquiry is I accept a British Event too but one which has a wider global interest as it also has ramifications beyond our shores such is the global nature of media, whether of the old or new kind.

I would compare its response to how the old media reported it. Usually they condense its thirty minutes of political theatre down to a minute or two, such is the level of interest in it.

I would also have an official record of PMQ’s provided by Parliament itself in the form of Hansard.

This weeks record can be read here and I am not going to repeat it save the opening tribute to a soldier who gave his life in Afghanistan from the Coalition Prime Minister, David Cameron.

“I am sure the whole House will wish to join me in paying tribute to Rifleman Sheldon Steel from 5th Battalion The Rifles. He was a highly respected soldier who had achieved a great deal and shown much potential during his time with the Army. At this very sad time, our thoughts should be with his family, his friends and his colleagues. His courage and his dedication will never be forgotten by our nation.”

Unison Strike ImageMost questions were around the day’s public sector strike over pensions (also with its own hash-tag #N30), and the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne’s Autumn Statement from yesterday (along with the current state of the public finances and economy in general) as well as a few questions relating to other matters.

Regarding the public sector strike, Labour Leader, Ed Milliband, practised the high-wire act of criticising the PM for the government’s funding and handling of public sector pension reform whilst not himself supporting the strike (which was noted by Conservative MP Mark Spencer).

He began by referring to the Head Teacher who was on public record of opposing the strike back in June and of which the PM praised for so doing but which today had closed her school. He asked a number of questions about pension reforms and relating to the Chancellor’s Autumn statement of yesterday.

The issue of union funding was raised by Conservative MP Laurence Robertson in respect of the taxpayer contribution. Another Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg asked if the striking air-traffic controllers could be sacked!

On the economy Labour MP Lillian Greenwood asked about the cost of unemployment not just in benefits but in lost tax revenue. Labour MP Kate Green asked why government is freezing working tax credit. Labour and Co-Op MP Mark Hendrick asked the PM if he came into politics to sack three quarter million public service workers. Conservative MP Fiona Bruce asked about pension provision and protection for those in her constituency working in the private sector.  Labour MP Owen Smith raised a question regarding the tax contribution of banks as oppose to public sector asking if the distribution was fair. There were a number of other questions relating to the economy.

Movember Photo Gallery

Movember

There were too a few foreign affairs questions including Liberal Democrat MP Jo Swinson asking about the progress of women’s rights in Afghanistan and Conservative MP Chris Kelly asking the PM to condemn the attack on the British Embassy in Iran.

Conservative MP Andrew Rosindell asked perhaps the most off-the-wall question of the day namely whether the sixteen remaining countries that fly the British flag ‘proudly’ will be defended by the UK!

At the outset the PM had commented on a number of MP’s who had grown moustaches in November as part of the Movember campaign (an annual November fundraiser towards funding and promoting  awareness of Men’s prostate cancer), Liberal Democrat MP Roger Williams was clearly one of those MP’s identified as the PM praised him ‘for the magnificent specimen lurking underneath his nose’!

So then these were the questions. And what did the old media run with? Only that the Prime Minister had described the day’s strike ‘has a damp squib’. Why make substantive points when a throw-away phrase like this will get the old media’s short-span attention?

How though had Twitter reported it? It should be noted that despite my comment about the more diverse participation of the public on Twitter as against that on our old-time media many of that old-time media inhabit the new-time Twitterverse too – whether has news organisations or hacks in their own right.

Tim Montgomerie Twitter AccountThe question of a tax on banks drew opposing tweets. Tim Montgomerie, Editor of Conservative Home, tweeted ‘Cameron ridicules Miliband for proposing a bank tax and then spending it in EIGHT different ways: The Bank Tax That Likes To Say Yes’ whereas Alex Belardinelli with a Red Rose Labour Badge on his Gravatar commented ‘Nonsense Prime Minister – this is what the bank bonus tax would pay’ for with a link to the Labour Party website and a piece by its leader on how this money would be spent on 110,000 new jobs.

This tweet from Michael Moran echoing what many think about the adversarial theatrical nature of PMQ’s ” The ridiculous pantomime of #PMQs is a sharp reminder that if you want to lay off un-needed public sector workers there’s 650 @ Westminster” – and the ‘plague on all their houses’ attitude towards all mainstream political parties that pervades currently.

Channel 4 News Channel 4 News tweeted what was perhaps one of the best lines of the day by Ed Milliband – “Some strikers earn less than what the chancellor spends on his annual skiing holiday” – reminding us all of the huge income disparities between those on the Conservative Front Bench and the millions of teachers, nurses and other hard-working pubic sector workers striking that day. Though one tweeting questioning the arithmetic ‘Does George Osborne buy his skiing gear from Poundland, or did Ed Miliband make a bit of a gaffe earlier?’!

Left Foot Forward on the other hand questioned the arithmetic from the other side of the equation – Osborne actually 52 times more privileged than Miliband claimed: http://bit.ly/u7X2TU writes @alexhern #PMQs #n30.

Mehdi Hassan TwitterIn respect of the thread of party funding and the relationships between the unions and Labour, Mehdi Hasan, the Senior Editor of the New Statesmen, tweeted “”His entire party is paid for by the unions,” says a party leader whose party is 50% funded by the City of London”. Resonating with a recent Sunday Observer column by comedian David Mitchell ‘Better we fund our political parties then let lobbyists run the roost‘.

Michael White of the Guardian tweeted’ Strikes are wrong, Labour is in unions’ pocket is Cam’s message, pure 1980s Daily Mail stuff in very different times’

This tweet from Red Fabian acknowledged that the PM did at least have one of the best lines of the day – if scripted – but then they all are aren’t they?- “They’re all shouting in Unison. Or should that be on behalf of Unison?” Unison being the trade union for public sector workers.

The right-wing PM accused the left-wing Labour leader of being, well, left-wing! This leading to a number of Tweets asking if being called ‘left-wing’ is an insult! I guess that depends on whether you consider yourself as left-wing or right-wing! And is this sort of remark more suited to the playground than the chambers of parliament?

Helen Lewis-Hasteley TwitterHelen Lewis-Hasteley of the New Statement tweeted “that’s good of him RT @JamieWood_Sky: Michael Gove tells Sky News it’s not wrong to be left wing or right wing – notable as Michael Gove is the Conservative Secretary of State for Education!

Following PMQ’s there is, amongst political pundits at least, a kind of informal polling of which of the party leaders got the better of the exchanges – of late it has see-sawed back and forth between Cameron and Milliband.

This week the Guardian thought that Ed had the better of it – “Miliband bombarded Cameron pretty effectively with embarrassing statistics. @AndrewSparrow‘s snap #PMQs verdict” while an opposing thought from Peter Mannion MP – “Might it have been better if Ed Miliband hadn’t turned up for work today? #PMQs #PMQ #N30 – clearly not a Labour MP!

It was clear though that despite a variety of other PMQ’s the questions that exercised the Twittersphere most were the ones that exercised the old media hacks the most too – namely the public sector strike action and related government economic policy. But it also has to be acknowledged that much the best tweets were from the old media hacks themselves – if perhaps benefiting from being unshackled from their respective Editors and Proprietors.

There was also a notable number of tweets to the announcement that public funding of union salaries in workplace would be ended – “Petty vindictiveness from Cameron to end public funding for union salaries in workplace http://bit.ly/vKYL56 #PMQs #N30 via @GdnPolitics was but one tweet and a view much echoed by most Tweeters.

Is Twitter – gasp! – left-wing leaning then?! And should it be insulted by this, or just proud?!

Today on Twitter – Hugh Grant and the Leveson Inquiry

Twitter Leveson search resultsThe Old Media in the New Media Spotlight. Is there still enough in this Hacking Scandal for us to be Hacked Off about?

I decided to do an experiment. If I had access to the web but only through the Twitter lens how much of the world outside my walls could I know about? Is everything worth knowing – and indeed everything not worth knowing – available on Twitter?  If it is not tweeted about did it not happen?

I could very easily get overwhelmed by a tidal-wave of global tweets so decided to focus on a trending item in my own country, the UK.

Trending fifth was the Leveson Inquiry. Or it was when I commenced this piece – as of this pargraph it is now third – such are the ever-moving trends on Twitter. And the number one trendng item is British actor Hugh Grant who is currently testifying before the inquiry.

The Leveson Inquiry itself has its own website – in its words set up to provide the latest information on the Inquiry, including details of hearings and evidence, to the public and interested parties. The Inquiry itself was set up to investigate the culture, practices and ethics of the press with further detail on its remit given on this page.

The Leveson Inquiry photoI did a quick look on Google News by way of comparison of old media with new media Twitter in its reporting of this Inquiry (or Enquiry but let’s just settle on Inquiry!). It was certainly being prominently reported with for example the BBC running with the headline Hacked Dowlers Thought Milly was Alive.

The Inquiry could also be followed live with The Telegraph just one media outlet showing a feed of it.

And the Leveson Inquiry is not just a British news media story, it has global involvement and interest too. Added spice would be how news organisations most directly implicated in the hacking scandal would report it as against those with so far at least cleaner hands. In the USA The Wall Street Journal a News International title reported on the parent’s of Milly Dowler’s testimony. This particular item was also reported in Australia by The Australian.

But back to my experiment and Twitter – just how much would I be able to find out about the Inquiry’s progress today by reading Tweets alone? And by ‘Tweets alone’ I mean by reading their content not any links that will inevitably be attached to some them to other web-pages and news stories – linking indeed to the traditional media. These I would not follow as in my experiment the web is out of bounds to me bar Twitter and so the links would all lead to Pages Not Found!

Leveson Inquiry

Hugh Grant giving testimony

The very fact that this Inquiry was trending was already instructional to me as though I was aware of this inquiry taking place I was not aware of when it was due to take place. It was Twitter then that brought this fact to my attention.

One item temporarily out-trending the Leveson Inquiry was ‘Mungo’ – the only Mungo I could think of was 1970’s English rock group Mungo Jerry – but it turns out that Mungo is one of Hugh Grant’s middle names! – so yet another trending Leveson Inquiry item.

Another aspect of the Twitter attention of this issue was the sheer volume of Tweets it was generating – in just the fifteen minutes it has taken me to type up to this paragraph another 300 tweets using the Leveson Hash Tag (#Leveson) have appeared – I clearly am not going to be able to keep up!

Though most of those tweeting were individuals – both celebrities and mere mortals such as myself – news organisations were tweeting updates too, such as BBC News and Channel 4 News.

Simon Tomlin News Alliance TwitterOne such organisational Tweet was from yesterday from a self-proclaimed News Alliance who commented that ‘All newspapers have a financial and political agenda behind the scenes and they are not in the least concerned about #Leveson pseudo-inquiry’. It was not clear to me whether they thought such an inquiry should be taking place at all or that it should but did not have enough teeth. Clicking on to their Twitter account it became clear it was the latter with this following Tweet better summarising their position “Hugh Grant has proved the #Leveson ‘Inquiry’ will be a celebrity self-pity party for the most part. Let’s hear some real media corruption’…the account is also linked to a Simon Tomlin so then not quite sure if an alliance or just a one-man band. These anyway were pre-inquiry tweets from November 13. Back to today November  21 and the responses to the inquiry in progress.

Twitter Ben FentonThe first Tweet I came upon that struck me most forcibly, succinctly got to the heart of the matter of the corrupt relationship between the largely London-based media and the (Metropolitan) police. It was from Ben Fenton and read ‘One girlfriend was mugged. We called the police. It was the photographers who came round first. #hughgrant tells #leveson‘. Ben Fenton it transpires is old media from the Financial Times if quick to point out tweeting in his own capacity not theirs!

Unsurprisingly when an item like this gets shared it is not done so by a lone tweeter rather many others will tweet either verbaitim or with some small variation – others tweeting this included Paul Waugh, the Editor of Politics Home.

Twitter Ravi SomaiyaClearly there is no love lost between Hugh Grant and the British media – the Tabloid press in particular – with this tweet from Ravi Somaiya neatly summing up Grant’s contempt for them – “In the absence of information, they’ll make it up,” says Grant of British tabloids. It transpired that Ravi Somaiya too is old media being a journalist for the New York Times London bureau. I suppose one should not be surprised that journalists of the old media make use of the new media sites like Twitter and perhaps are their most prolific tweeters.

Hugh Grant’s involvement  in this inquiry relates to exploring how much privacy celebrities should have. Another aspect of this inquiry and much more political dynamite is the relationship between the British Government, its political parties and the press – and who has the real power in our country the British Parliament or News International – the Prime Minister or the Editor of the Sun or The Daily Mail?

One such tweet expressing some disinterest in the celebrity side of things came from Siobhan O’Neill – ‘Not sure why this guy is questioning Grant over his choice of statement to the press about his baby. Relevant how?’ Another from Dickson Edwards drily observing that the inquiry is turning into a posher version of Jeremy Kyle! This was retweeted a number of times.

Hugh Grant reserved most of his ire for one newspaper in particular – The Daily Mail – one of its columnist’s Amanda Platell sitting just a few feet away from him. The drama!

Twitter Index on CensorshipAnother organisation following this inquiry is the Index On Censorship who Tweeted ‘Grant and publicist on phone discussing press statement: “not ideal circumstances. I was dressed as a cannibal at the time.” Enough said!

Clearly not everyone watching the inquiry was enthralled to it with this tweet from Ivor Sawbottom (oh dear!) commenting that it was like watching paint dry. In contrast a tweet from Kirsten Han, a Singaporean blogger, considered it  anything but boring – ‘I just wanted a peek at the #Leveson inquiry and see what Hugh #Grant is saying – it has now been 45 minutes and I’m still watching’.

Joel Gunter Journalist UK TwitterA reminder of how interconnected modern media is was demonstrated in this Tweet from Joel M Gunter – ‘Attention from Hugh Grant’s #Levesonappearance has apparently crashed his Paul McMullan piece on the@newstatesman site’. Joel Gunter is a senior reporter at media news site Journalism UK – and I assure you I was not seeking out Journo tweets – they though were clearly seeking me out.

There was much observation that Hugh Grant was getting irked with the judge prompting this tweet from Sam Knight ‘New drinking game: Drink every time Hugh Grant rolls his eyes’. He did not say what we should drink but we can assume not tea.

Twitter Tom WatsonThere seems to be a Twitter consensus too that Hugh Grant is being given a hard time – harder than for example the Murdoch’s Rupert and James were given at the UK Parliamentary Inquiries when facing forensic questions from the Labour MP Tom Watson — I see this as a positive sign though and that Leveson is going to treat all those appearing before him with thorough scrutiny.

ITN London tweeted this Hugh Grant quote ‘My publicists throw their hands up over Britain, they say it’s uncontrollable!’ This was retweeted by Royal Forum Moron – I love some of the aliases used!

Twitter will also pick up on anything no matter how tangental and one curious trend was #Womanontheleft – clearly someone to the left of Hugh Grant on screen was attracting attention among the twitterati! Later all was revealed by a Twitter photograph of a lawyer as much interested it seems in the look of Hugh Grant as the words coming out of his mouth!

Graham Linehan Twitter AccountCelebrities were tweeting too including The IT Crowd and Father Ted creator Graham Linehan ‘I assumed it was, Mister Grant, that’s why I wasn’t going to read it out. Yeah, right!’ – this being an example of a Tweet that only makes sense if you were watching the inquiry whilst watching Twitter too!

And at 15.55 I decided to log off from Twitter with the inquiry and Hugh Grant still in full flow for if I were to report everything of note that was Tweeted this blog post would go on to ten thousand words and beyond. It just going to show how much can be said from so little. And this also based on the Leveson hash-tag had I used #HughGrant I would have generated further tweets still.

Clearly not all events will be as widely tweeted as the Leveson Inquiry. This was an event being broadcast  around the globe afterall. But it does show what a democratic window on the world Twitter is. Let us hope that it never becomes poisoned with political cronyism and other old-media misdemeanours.

Duncan Bannatyne’s Twitter Feud – and old media sanctimony

Old media loves to attack and dismiss new media. Like a parent who admonishes their children and acts as if they were never a curious inquiring child themselves – repeating ever the parent sins.

And just as the printing press used to get blamed for the content of paperbacks and newspapers so now the World Wide Web gets blamed for the content of websites and social media platforms.

Scottish business entrepreneur and a panel-member of of the BBC program Dragons’ Den, Duncan Bannatyne, a few days back received a black-mail threat upon his daughter on Twitter. He in effect tweets back a bounty-offer to his followers offering cash for information leading to an arrest – and a bonus for anyone who finds and breaks their arms! – I follow him and only caught the latter part of this twitter-stream and was not sure whether it was serious or some running ruse – it turns out to be for real. One can understand his anger and that his emotions ran ahead of him – taking justice into his own hands and perhaps being in breach of a law or two in the process.

But on the online news sites and forums most of the comments were more keen to condemn Twitter and its users than condemn either the original blackmail threat or Duncan Bannatyne’s response to it. It being okay to make facile and troll like remarks on the Comments sections of News Sites just not within 140 characters on Twitter. Facebook got it in the neck too.

Twitter and Facebook may or may not be banal – that really depends on you and your friends, who you follow and in turn who follows you – the technology is not responsible for the foibles and imbecilities of any of its users. You can be foolish across all technologies, or you can forsake all technology and it won’t make you any more wiser or pleasant. No, that lies within you.

Also notable in such dismissals of social media sites are a number of pious posters incredulous that people use Twitter to communicate when they can use Email! I can but imagine that when Email started becoming wide-spread in the 1990’s these self-same people castigated Email users as idiots or other derogatory terms almost certainly mis-spelled – thundering abusively that why don’t they write a letter instead.

And so it goes – letter writers using keyboards chastised by letter writers using pen and ink – pen and ink scribes reviled by the users of the quill. They in turn ostracised for written communication by those who cannot and will not write because speaking was good enough for them and their parents before them without need for witchy hieroglyphics. So it goes back to the Neanderthal cave and those happy enough to grunt without any need for fancy progressive civilised wordy language.

Because for sure one day Facebook and Twitter will fade away ever more redundant and used only by the old of spirit ever oblivious to new developments – communication now literally a matter of thought with another bunch of Twitter Luddites decrying those that communicate telepathically – from companies with catchphrases like “Just Think of It’! – what’s the need when you can use Twitter they will rage, tweeting away their spleen thereafter.

Facebook versus Twitter

Are you a Facebooker or a Twitterer? Or do you practice both?

I practice both.

Can Facebook and Twitter really be compared? Though both social media tools are they different enough to the proverbial oranges and apples?

Twitter LogoOn Facebook we can befriend and be befriended, on Twitter follow and be followed.

I use Facebook to keep up with my family, friends and work-colleagues. I also have Friends on my Facebook that I knew years ago and perhaps I befriended them as much out of curiosity as to what they have been up to since we parted company as a real desire to befriend them again. Certainly these virtual re-unions suit me fine generally having no desire to rekindle them beyond that.

And to that end some of the chat on Facebook is a bit circumspect, minding my p’s and q’s. Rather like a dinner conversation where the taboos not to talk about are sex, religion, politics and money it is a similar etiquette on Facebook. And though I may get into a full-blown argument with family and friends on one of these topics around my dinner-table in a blue-moon it is not something I want to do on Facebook – for all and sundry to see and written evidence everafter to never let any of us forget let alone forgive.

Jimmy Carr Twitter Logo

Twitter on the other hand I take the opportunity to vent off on anything that is on my mind – but with Twitter I don’t invite family and friends. For Twitter I use it to follow people of interest to me and not being a celebrity myself don’t have too many followers – so can Tweet with impunity. For example there was an Avaaz petition recently calling on the United Nations to end their global war on drugs towards decriminalisation, regulation, public health and education – this is something I am sympathetic to and tweeted the campaign call. It is not something I would have Facebook Shared – there would almost certainly be friends and family of mine who would not share my views and I have no interest in getting into an online discussion with them in front of my other Facebook friends. So for me at least the atmosphere on Facebook is always polite whereas on Twitter it is more anarchic and rowdy.

Sarah Silverman Twitter Logo

I also use Twitter as an unmediated source of news. No political spin or scandal-mongering from the traditional news media rather I can read the famous and infamous in their own words – well leaving aside the matter of spoof accounts! This is good for politicians too though they themselves as in this previous post tend to be banal generally following their party line.

Comedians I follow on Twitter including Sarah Silverman and her father Donald and ‘his Rants from Boca‘, Jimmy Carr and Steve Martin among many others where they tend to use it as an opportunity to try out new jokes and material.

Writers will share their thoughts on the progress of their latest work alongside their thoughts on any other subject of interest to them.

I follow actors and singers too – but not on the basis of whether I like them or not but that there tweets are entertaining and interesting. I am not interested in following a star’s schedule.

A more diverse human life is here then my family and friends.

I also like with Twitter that I cannot waffle – I have 140 characters therefore I have to learn to be brief – and for someone verbose like me that is a good discipline.

I wonder if any philosophers are using Twitter for sharing their aphorisms with the world? An ideal medium.

Twitter has a smart and crisp interface too, whereas Facebook I find ugly looking and a clunky experience. Nevertheless I am not planning on leaving Facebook any time soon – it still remains a great way to quickly and effectively keep up with friends and family.

And I don’t just mean snooping on them!

Politicians professional twitter – get tweeting real!

Please politicians do not tweet unsweet nothings into my ear.

I recently started following Sarah Brown the wife of Gordon our last Prime Minister. I was impressed that she had a twitter account but a little disappointed if not surprised that most of her tweets were carefully crafted professional pronouncements. This alas is the way generally with our politicians and their partners.

What I like about twitter is the warts and all of a member off message as well as on.  I don’t follow twitterers who tweet their schedules or who tout their latest merchandise – and in the case of politicians their party manifestos and latest political positions.

Ed Miliband

Ed Miliband

I am following Ed Miliband – as the new leader of Labour since September 2010 I thought it would provide an insight to him beyond the party spin machine and media rinse.  Not so – the whips or whoever, have truly gotten to him and his tweets are so unremarkable I cannot remember a single one – I am sure they were supportive of motherhood and apple pie and though I share many of his political views if I want to find out about them I can do so on the Labour Party website.

When former Labour leader Gordon Brown remarked that he listened to The Arctic Monkeys and our current PM that he enjoyed Lark Rise to Candleford of a Sunday evening – it felt a bit scripted but at least they were revealing a bit more about themselves beyond their party positions. I would much rather know how Ed Miliband is feeling about the performance of his favourite sports team or what gadget David Cameron just bought or what music Nick Clegg is currently listening to.

In the interests of this post I did have a search for David Cameron’s tweets but he does not have a Twitter account though he does have quite a few fake ones such as David Scameron with the strapline ‘Saving Broken Britain by building the Big Society whilst putting the Tory into history!’

Nick Clegg does have a Twitter account and it is another political pulpit – professional and unmemorable.

Where Twitter can betray interesting facts about a politician is by listing who they follow!  And Nick follows a few British comedians such as Ross Noble and Armando Iannucci.  He still has a sense of humour!

There are plenty of spoof Nick Clegg accounts too including Nick Clegg’s Soul with strapline “I am Nick Clegg’s Soul that he hasn’t lost, apparently. I know what he thinks even when he is saying the opposite, which is quite often these days”!

Alex Salmond

Alex Salmond leader of the Scottish National Party also has an account and it too is a dull affair. Again a number of spoof accounts including ‘Alex Salmond MP – Self-appointed King of Scotland, I shall deliver this land from sleepwalking into Communism.’ Sounds like the account of a disgruntled Scottish Tory – there aren’t many of them – Scottish Tories that is gruntled or otherwise!

I thought I would check out too the account of the Mayor of London Boris Johnson has someone who can go off message. His tweets have their fair share of pronouncements from his Mayoral office and party positions but does at least comment on events beyond the political sphere and with some passion too.  And he is following opposition leaders! Such as Ed Miliband for one – keeping tabs on the other side no doubt – I am sure like me disappointed though with the scripted content!

Sally Bercow – interesting tweet tweet!

My favourite political tweeter is Sally Bercow not a politician but rather the wife of the Conservative Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow – and remarkable as quite open about her views which are supportive of the Labour Party.

Would our leaders’ partners prove more illuminating then?

I could not find an account for Sam Cameron – plenty of fake and unflattering ones – which clearly goes with the territory of being a politician or their spouse.  Nor was I able to find a twitter account for Ed Miliband’s soon-to-be wife Justine Thornton.

Of course it is quite possible that some politicians and their close family members are posting under false names – something that we the great unwashed would never do!  I came upon one account for Miriam Durantez wife of Nick Clegg with just one tweet – ‘Honey calm down por favor’ – clearly fake! Alex Salmond’s wife Moira is also victim of a fake account as Moira McFish and referred to has the First Lady Of Scotland!

I guess politician’s children not their spouses are likely to be more natural and at ease with Twitter – alas our current political leaders either do not have children or they are too young to be tweeting – though I don’t think you have to be that old to tweet!

If you know of any politicians especially leaders of their parties that tweet beyond party political banalities please let me know.

Now Cherie Blair – I bet she has a lot of interesting tweet to share!