Practicing Politics in the Twitter Era: If we are to speak of the age of online politics -- and I am not certain that we should -- let's say we've lived through the Blog Era (2001-04), the YouTube Era (2005-08) and now we are in the Twitter Era (2008-?). This screen shot of a blog post at Media Matters (of all places) juxtaposing tweets from Newt Gingrich and Matt Cooper -- proof alone that everyone in Washington is using Twitter -- provides a useful snapshot of the how Twitter works alongside the blogosphere (rumors of its death still exaggerated) in moving political messages online:
So the Right had a vibrant 'sphere in the post-9/11 Warblogging Period, which drifted after the 2004 election, as frustrated soon-to-be-ex-Pajamas Media bloggers can tell you. The Left owned the YouTube era, which happened to coincide, not coincidentally, with President Bush's second term. Their political blog infrastructure was developed largely on the participation of bloggers and blog readers, not anyone using Twitter yet, most of the time because Twitter did not exist or see any significant usage until SXSW 2007. (You know who I can't find on Twitter? MoveOn.)
For at least a year now, the Right again has been leading the way on an Internet-based communication platform. So far it's to organize for Conservatism somewhat broadly as a unifying cause. Top Conservatives on Twitter is not quite a MoveOn for the Right -- a whispered-of but ultimately mythical animal not unlike the "Party-in-a-laptop" idea popular with some Neoliberals -- but it could have more value as a list than Gingrich's own Drill Here, Drill now efforts and even the (also short-time) #dontgo message it spawned last August. These new conservative projects are often built around Twitter itself. Sometimes this results in really annoying tweets, but at this point the right is doing more interesting things in this space. Twitter is smaller than Facebook, but makes up for it in volume of press hits (hopefully someone with Nexis can back this up for me) and news reports that its traffic is about to go all hockey-stick. Maybe it will go Galt as well.
Conservatives also have other, much older infrastructure whose blogging component counts a few successes but still relies on decidedly Web 1.0 websites, and so hasn't taken as big a hit in the Great Blog Crash of 2008-09. And like companies of the dot com crash (including Google itself), the concepts and websites that clawed their way out of the rubble did not and will not bring back substantial returns in the short run. Twitter, by its sheer simplicity, is kind of a Long Tail product in that we can (and often seem to actually do) use it in spare moments between the day, which means its audience could approach that of e-mail (especially since, you know, you need an e-mail account to join Twitter). Either could build that kind of reach, depending on who experiments more through the rest of the arbitrary era proper.
Using #TCOT vs. No Hashtags Whatsoever:
According to Internet marketing blog Hubspot, the right's #TCOT momentum means it vastly outnumbers the hashtags left-leaning Twitter users and bloggers... er, aren't listed as using, not here at least. Hmm. So which hashtags do the left use?
Pause for dramatic effect.
Turns out the left-verse doesn't do hashtags at all, that I could see from checking these accounts over the weekend:
My question for the Left is whether the port side of the Twitterverse will adopt the same habit of hashtags that moves stories -- and if it does, whether it will even be led by the Kos-Greenwald-Marshall-Hamsher-Klein-Stoller-Yglesias Netroots movement. (Note: In the comments at Blog P.I. a fellow Twittizen points out there is a website collecting progressive hashtags: Tweetleft. And as she observes, organized hashtag use lies beyond "'the usual' accounts.")
And my question for the Right is whether they know any of the Top 5 Conservatives on Twitter, because I haven't got a clue.
Benchmark note: As of Sunday afteroon, Markos Moulitsas (2,411) has 7,288 fewer followers than John Culberson (9,699).
Adapted from a post at Blog P.I.