A few weeks ago I made a visit to the New York Times newsroom. Walking past a cubicle, I was introduced to Bill Keller, the Editor-in-Chief. Upon learning I work at Twitter, he said back, “I’m actually writing a piece about Twitter right now.”
We all know by now what a magnifying impact Twitter, the micro blogging sensation, has had on politics. Capitol Hill is no exception. Here are some key highlights from the week of Twitter on the Hill.
Trending Topics this week, according to Tweet Congress, a web site dedicated to tracking tweets from Members of Congress, include: #haiti, #morejobs, #hcr and #tcot. (TCOT = top conservatives on Twitter). Remember, hash tags are tools that help you to follow a conversation. So if a user uses #hrc in their 140 character update, it will funnel into a conversation thread with more #hcr.
Some interesting hash tags I found from Republicans include #repealit and #KilltheBill, no doubt in reference to health care. From the Democrats, at least this week, I found less Twitter output. Their hashtags revolved around #haiti, #hcr and personal state hash tags such as #MO for Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO). It seems Republicans are finding more creative uses of hashtags, a smart and effective way of targeting messages…at least at this moment.
Helen Thomas meets Twitter. Well, I’ve introduced them once before. But this time on camera – and this time, armed with questions from you. She was a good sport and full of laughs, but then quickly turned the tables and asked me to ask you: who wants single payer health care?
Hundreds of Iranians and supporters showed up with flags, signs, and shades of green to urge the White House to intervene in what has become a widespread uprising between Iranians for democracy and the government, lead by the Supreme Leader Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
BBC reported from that 10 people have died so far in the Tehran protests. One woman I interviewed denounced that and said the real numbers are in the low hundreds. While all of this goes on, dozens of journalists have been jailed while others, like BBC’s John Leyne, have been removed from the country. Total chaos.
I came across this protest unexpectedly but luckily had my Flip Video on me. Check it out and be sure to get the take from the ground with my live tweets next time.
If you haven’t been paying attention – here is the skinny. Over the weekend, Iran held presidential elections. The incumbent, supreme leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, pulled out a landslide victory. Or so it looked. Massive amounts of people organized in a visceral reaction to Ahmadinejad’s second-term victory, claiming his contender, Mir Hossein Mousavi, had been cheated. Mousavi almost immediately demanded the election results be annulled.
One U.S. blogger, Andrew Sullivan, described President Ahmadinejad’s leadership and said he is dedicated to “conflict abroad,” manipulative of “rural, religious voters,” and engaged in other abuses of “the state.” Even perhaps more illuminating, Sullivan asked whether Iranian voters can “trust the process” when they have a President who “pulls tricks” like Karl Rove.
Back in Iran, tens of thousands of Iranians took the streets in opposition to Ahmadinejad victory. Citizen journalism video reports and the use of micro blogs and hash tags(#iran#iranelections) broadcasted a raw and emotional look at what Iranian organizers, press and activists were going through in the capital of Tehran.
One YouTube user, theamirzare, who apparently just signed up on the video sharing network to post this video, sent a simple message: “Ahmadinejad is NOT my President.” In just two days, the video has over 23,000 views.
Back in the U.S., activist bloggers chased the story with original content created by on-the-ground reporters from the New York Times, CNN and others. Tracy Viselli, a blogger at Care2, pulled together a well-organized summary of key highlights as well as a few videos from the ground. Below I posted my favorite, which is from CNN’s Chief International Correspondent, Christiane Amanpour. Her cameras caught one woman shouting, “People in Tehran hate Ahmadinejad! People in Tehran hate Ahmadinejad!””
Finally, on Sunday night, as hundreds, if not thousands of U.S. bloggers watched the chaos unfold, some decided to start a little chaos of their own. TechPresident broke the news that a group of cyber strategists had temporarily shut down Iran’s state-run media web site, www.IRIB.ir. The effort was lead by D.C. political consultant and new media authority, Josh Koster, who leveraged free web app called Page Reboot, to bring the site down. The customized anti-IRIB link was passed around through Twitter and list servs until finally, at 9:24 PM EST, @joshkoster proclaimed, “(PLS RT!): We just brought down Iran’s media site. 2 More: http://tinyurl.com/m42b65http://tinyurl.com/lmgzmf #iranelection (PLS RT!)
Why use a Twitter #hash tag to funnel questions for the legendary Helen Thomas? Because it’s hip, that’s why…and because I’ll have a really enjoyable time trying to explain it to her!
Ok ok, I’ll tell you the truth. Last night I spoke at DC Media Makers, a meet up of people who promote peer learning and digital literacy in DC. I talked for a few minutes about my work for MTV (USTREAM caught it live) and why I needed new and compelling content to take EricaAmerica to the next level.
Helen and I have been friends for almost two years now. We see each other sporadically, normally when I call and ask for a coffee or a drink to catch up. Each time I go prepared with a list of questions spanning topics of history, war and peace, working in Washington and being the first woman in the Press Corp. In short, I don’t want to waste her time. So I am always trying to make the most of those meetings. (Check this piece out I wrote about an evening with Helen.)
So here I am, now working on a project to capture some of her thoughts, her experience and her wisdom for the Web 2.0 community. Through this video series, I hope to open up a new side for the world to see of Helen, a side that wants to explain, educate and describe what she saw over the last 60 years in Washington.
After I showed the video to the group at DC Media Makers, they had a ton of substantive ideas for me. From production to lighting to ways to crowd-source the Internet for questions, the conversation was dynamic. I always enjoy those meetings and walked away with some great ideas. Thanks to @acarvin, I am now using the #AskHelen hash tag on Twtiter to encourage people to shout out their quesitons. If you are new to the hash tag or twitter, all you need to do is include #AskHelen after your question in your Tweet. It will be funnelled into a page on Twitter that will group all of the questions together.
Now, NPR – and Andy Carvin, Senior Product Manager in the Digital Media department, are on to something different. To add on to what they did for the Election (VoteReport), they have two techies building iPhone Applications for the Inauguration — so that people can post audio, text (and maybe even video?) online. I will definitley take part and text updates from @ericaamerica to NPR. If you are a DC Local, use the tag #inaug09. If you are coming from somewhere else, use the tag #dctrip09.
With all the early reports of cell phone towers being stretched with an estimated 2 million out-of-town visitors, it is safe to assume this project, though smart and ambitious, will have problems. But how do you cover such an event through social media — when technology and towers will be so seriously challenged?
If the towers fail us all – which would be tragic considered how connected we are – watch out for me on my little red rider, biking back and forth to my media station in Dupont to upload, tag and blog. Then, I’ll be back again on the streets. It’ll be like a little post-Street Team reporting marathon. 🙂
**If you are an iPhone App guru, or have any other ideas for NPR’s social media coverage, contact Andy via Twitter. (@acarvin)
This last week in the race to the White House was unheard of. First, lawmakers scrammbled to save our economy from collapse, McCain asked to cancel the first Presidential Debate – and Bill O’Reilly flipped out not just on Dems but all “ideological kool aid drinkers.” Hmm. Could we are all be getting somewhere?
Both Senators urged Member of Congress to work together and compromise on an economic bail out package. The package is controversial on both sides, particularly to very conservative Republicans and very liberal Dems.
As a side note, I also found this press release from Senator Obama’s campaign. Along with the statement, he outlined five “principals” for John McCain to follow. I wonder if that actually happened….
Both campaign jets arrived in Oxford, Mississippi for the first of three Presidential Debates. This one focused on Foreign Policy – but in light of the looming financial crisis, 35 minutes was spent on the economy.
To see the individual responses on the following topics (from solving the crisis to lessons of Iraq), visit the Debate Hub homepage and select which one you like. You can also see the breakdown of how long each candidate spoke on each topic in relation to the rest of the debate.
And to check out Chris Cizzilla, Washington Post blogger (The Fix) wrap up the key points from the debate, visit his blog. I had tried to post a video here but the WaPo embed isn’t working. I’ll get on that. Until next time.