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August Virtual Community Cabinet in review.

By johnboy - 30 August 2011 39

Once again four cabinet ministers debased themselves on the altar of Canberra’s tiny twitter community.

The self-promoters, the attention seekers and the griefers were out in force, as were the jokers. It was all one would expect from a community as self-regarding as Twitter.

Here’s a look at the tweets that caught my eye (taken from two different feeds which just about let me keep up but does look a bit funny).

They’re in chronological order, although vagaries of twitter and running two feeds means there might be some overlaps.


It started with the jokers.

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In a channel with severe signal to noise ratio problems the ACT Secretary of the Labor Party lacked the judgment to not spam it with with irrelevancies.

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And then these being twitter nerds there’s always someone with nothing better to ask about than Twitter.

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As well as the Ministers, the communications chief Simon Kinsmore was answering questions on behalf of the ACT Government. (Which begged the question why not have more senior public servants involved?)

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There being no end to the self-involvement of a Tweeter we were treated to that favourite of social media; eating.

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At least Simon Kinsmore was getting rave reviews.

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And there was no point in proceedings that the urge to retweet without thought to the channel could be resisted.

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It wasn’t as if all the Ministers were so engaged they couldn’t go wandering offtopic with the herd either.

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If there’s one thing Twitter is never short of is techno-utopians who think all the world is a nail to their ill advised hammer.

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Offtopic chit chat is at least a great way to avoid the impenetrable questions of the mothering activists surrounding hospital policy.

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Ooh look at me flooding a channel to retweet that something started some time ago.

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Even Simon Corbell’s media adviser couldn’t resist screaming “look at me” while contributing nothing from holidays.

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It seems Simon Corbell was off having his own discussions, but following #actvcc all you’d know was others asking him about it.

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Joy Burch had a tenacious critic of the housing she was getting, which eventually lead to the “let’s take this offline” capitulation.

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No question was too inane.

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And all questions could be answered with variations on these answers: Soon, we’re thinking about it, it’s not our problem.

Like this response to the above.

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Lardman, having found an audience, was waxing philosophical.

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Twitter enthusiasts must evangelise at all times.

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Every now and then a curly question was thrown up.

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But relentless self promotion is a key characteristic of Twitter.

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Social media loves talking about social media almost as much as mainstream media likes writing about itself.

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And then the delusions of grandeur kicked in for sections of the crowd. If you want to be part of cabinet we suggest you get elected, form government, and get appointed to a ministry.

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The griefers started getting abusive.

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The Chief Minister did have a good answer to the cabinet wannabe.

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The Twitter enthusiasts delusions of grandeur extended to moving the whole Legislative Assembly to their domain.

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Predictably the mob thought this was a good idea.

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Simon Corbell had his evasion down pat.

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Paranoia set in.

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Followed swiftly by self congratulation.

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Twitter being quantitatively based rather than qualitatively, again sheer weight of tweets spammed into the #actvcc channel will probably be used to justify the process.

In its favour a small number of tweeters might feel as if they’ve been listened to.

It’s hard to say if that’s a good or a bad thing.

What’s Your opinion?


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39 Responses to
August Virtual Community Cabinet in review.
I live in Macgregor 3:45 pm 31 Aug 11

johnboy, this is not a criticism of you or your personal views about journalism practice and expectations/standards as it seems you don’t have the resources to check facts or seek alternate views, but here it is anyway… Here is a much less bleak and more accurate summary of the Twitter cabinet last night.

This is, as is the whole feed, publicly available (not filtered through an anti-Twitter bias) 🙂  http://keikakudoori.net/blog/?p=756

Grail 3:33 pm 31 Aug 11

BBerry said :

As someone who was quoted in this review, forgive me for being ignorant, but I am not sure what is meant by “And there was no point in proceedings that the urge to retweet without thought to the channel could be resisted.”

Retweeting something after the VCC was over might have been a better option. Either that, or remove the #avcc hashtag from the tweet before sending it.

This #avcc type of “forum” is really not a suitable use for Twitter. In the good old days, we used IRC for this kind of discussion/open forum/town hall. The proportion of people using the internet today who would understand how to use IRC is pretty low, but the technology is mature and stable. Then of course there was Usenet (NNTP) which was vastly superior to BBS/Web Forums for the purpose of long-term discussion.

Twitter is not suited for conversations, especially where multiple people are involved.

Holden Caulfield 3:30 pm 31 Aug 11

BBerry said :

As someone who was quoted in this review, forgive me for being ignorant, but I am not sure what is meant by “And there was no point in proceedings that the urge to retweet without thought to the channel could be resisted.”

I use the retweet function of twitter as a way to promote ideas, initiatives, tweets and links that I think are worth sharing, particularly with those people who follow my feed; people who might not follow the MLAs or who might not be aware of the #actvcc hashtag….

If I have somehow missed the point of the RT, I am happy to stand corrected…

I don’t think you have.

I think JB has a bee in his bonnet about the concept of twitter being used in this context. And I do share some of his concerns, I must admit.

However, I take the approach it’s better for GovCo to make a hash (pardon the pun) of communicating with the public via alternate means, even with a poor sign to noise ratio, rather than not communicating at all.

It’s a start and will hopefully get better. Although, given the medium I’m not really sure how, which brings us back to what I understand JB’s stance to be: why use twitter at all?

BBerry 3:01 pm 31 Aug 11

As someone who was quoted in this review, forgive me for being ignorant, but I am not sure what is meant by “And there was no point in proceedings that the urge to retweet without thought to the channel could be resisted.”

I use the retweet function of twitter as a way to promote ideas, initiatives, tweets and links that I think are worth sharing, particularly with those people who follow my feed; people who might not follow the MLAs or who might not be aware of the #actvcc hashtag….

If I have somehow missed the point of the RT, I am happy to stand corrected…

Calamity 1:36 pm 31 Aug 11

I live in Macgregor said :

To quote another Canberran on twitter, that is a “bleak review” johnboy. I don’t think it is an accurate review either. .

+1 (sorry, am I flooding a channel here??)

Skidbladnir 1:15 pm 31 Aug 11

Twitter Cabinet is the worst idea possible for engagement.
Self selecting and special-interest groups who think that public policy comment and community scrutiny can fit into twenty-five words or less and less than an hour, sourced form people who are potentially geographically irrelevant, all with no oversight of comms traffic and nothing but sound-bites without context?

If politicians want to engage people and see what their concerns are:
grab half a dozen plastic chairs, a picnic table, and a few bottles of water, and set up just outside Canberra Centre\Woden for one day every fortnight.
You’ll get community questions without notice. You’ll get community opinions. You’ll get community feedback.
You’ll still have self-selecting interest groups, but it will be mixed with average people on lunchhour, and the questioners won’t just be people with computer access, they won’t potentially just be your employes, and it will be entirely unscripted.
All wrapped up in a chance to show off how well an individual can engage a crowd.

poetix 12:50 pm 31 Aug 11

I think then when government starts using a medium, it’s a sure sign that it has already started dying.

Oh dear, that could almost be a tweet.

johnboy 12:42 pm 31 Aug 11

Dear Elias,

It is normal practice to comment on publicly available material without contacting the speaker.

If you are relying on Mister Meikle for your validation you are, in my opinion, in very deep trouble indeed. I can frankly think of no trouble deeper.

Your tweet, in my opinion, was noise in a signal poor channel, by no means the only culprit, but a very high profile one.

Cheers,

John

I live in Macgregor 12:37 pm 31 Aug 11

To quote another Canberran on twitter, that is a “bleak review” johnboy. I don’t think it is an accurate review either. #actvcc is a new and relatively successful attempt to engage more Canberrans in dialogue about their city and issues that matter to them. You’re obviously biased against twitter and don’t want to see it supplement the type of dialogue more traditional forms of community cabinets and town-hall style meetings facilitate.

I’ve been to a few community cabinets and similar forums over the years and I think the diversity and participation during last night’s discussion over twitter was relatively good. I think people also need to keep these sorts of meetings and discussions in a realistic context and perspective. It was a public, unscripted and un-edited discourse. Yes, there are obvious limitations in the medium but you don’t have to be a half-glass-empty guy all the time.

You’ve also missed the main story here. Katy Gallagher leads a team which is engaging the community in an open forum about issues that matter to them. Surely a government that is working hard and listening more often, answering more questions and paying more attention to the personal desires and issues that matter to its community is to be commended? Yes, twitter is a new medium which is still evolving but that just shows again that Katy Gallagher’s team is open to new ideas and exploring better ways to communicate and have an ongoing dialogue.

That can only be good for our city and our democracy.

I’ll end by comments with a quote from one of the many Canberrans who participated last night when @MisterMeikle wrote he thought using social media for this type of dialogue was a “great initiative”.

Regards,

Elias

p.s. is it your normal journalistic practice to have a spray at people without contacting them to check the context of information you choose to use and provide an alternative view to your own bleak opinion? I understand that you don’t have a team of journalists and online reporting needs to be done more quickly than the printed medium, but having a go at me and twitter because I re-tweeted some live analytics about the discussion just demonstrates your bias against both. A single re-tweet can hardly be described as “spam”, or ‘lack of judgement” or “irrelevancy”. I also don’t think it’s fair to judge other people who, unlike yourself, are trying to learn more about twitter and social media and exploring and sharing infromation about its use and popularity. When I read the on-line reporting and feedback at the Canberra Times, ABC, 2CC and Canberra Causerie, there seems to be a much less bleak approach to social media.

Primal 10:51 pm 30 Aug 11

PantsMan said :

On a serious note, how many public f%&king servants were tweeting away on taxpayers’ time/money.

At 7pm or later?

creative_canberran 10:38 pm 30 Aug 11

Wikidemocracy… now theres an idea. And JB can be whatever the head of state is under such an open source system… which is to say approving legislative edits (assent) and taking overseas trips (holid… diplomacy).

PantsMan 10:10 pm 30 Aug 11

Don’t say you weren’t consulted.

On a serious note, how many public f%&king servants were tweeting away on taxpayers’ time/money. Is this political spin, or serious work for the ACT PS? Won’t mention the Public Sector Management Act or ‘apolitical’!

LSWCHP 9:43 pm 30 Aug 11

It sounds sort of like having an uncontrolled meeting in a hall where everybody is talking at once. On that basis I reckon JB’s comment about low SNR would be pretty accurate.

MWF 9:42 pm 30 Aug 11

“Even Simon Corbell’s media adviser couldn’t resist screaming “look at me” while contributing nothing from holidays.”

I don’t get it. Simon Corbell’s Media Advisor is on holidays, yet online during the Virtual Community Cabinet and yet the poor possum feels left out? Isn’t the point of social media being able to do it wherever you are? Wouldn’t a media advisor, like, know that s***?

terencepalmerau 9:28 pm 30 Aug 11

Glad to see my tweets never made it into your post .. 😀 … the ACT VCC is a start … lets see where it goes…

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