Which Australian Politicians are on Twitter?

It had been something that I’d been meaning to do for a while but hadn’t ever quite managed to find the time to do. A conversation between James Dellow (@chieftech), Senator Kate Lundy (@katelundy), Michael de Percy (@madepercy), Karl Roby (@karlroby) and Pia Waugh (@piawaugh) on Twitter a few days ago started it all going again. Time to do something about it!

Twitter, in case you haven’t seen the numerous over-excited newspaper articles, is by all measures the next “big thing” on the internet and has been undergoing a meteoric rise in popularity in Australia in the last few months.

I signed up for Twitter in November 2007 and started using it for real about a year ago. The first few weeks were definitely “what is this all about?”, “I don’t _get_ this twitter thing”, “People do talk a lot of sh*t…” and so on. Then, it started to make sense. There are a lot of very smart, interesting, engaged people out there who are chatting with each other on Twitter and the medium has brought me a great deal of intriguing little factoids, fascinating insights and, of course, a heap of new good people to talk to.

It’s really good to see that Australian politicians are starting to see the potential of Twitter. Now there are enough politicians using Twitter that bringing them together in a list makes sense.

So, please go to ozpollietweeters.pbworks.com, follow politicians and parties you’re interested in, talk to them, ask them questions and get the conversation going. Also, if you come across a politician who isn’t on the list then please add them. You’ll need to create a login on pbworks.com first, though.

You’ll notice that we’ve tried, as much as possible, to separate out the real people from the people that are impersonating them (the “fakes”). Most of the time, the fakes don’t hide it and are using the oppurtunity to parody their politician of choice. That’s fine and a very healthy part of any democracy. However, where things become tricky is where the fakes aren’t clear about who they are (or aren’t) and use the opportunity to make abusive or offensive comments. It’s not always cut and dry who people say they are on the internet and Twitter is no different in that respect.

Another purpose of bringing this list together is so that on OpenAustralia.org we can add people’s Twitter accounts to their pages.

It would be great if we could verify that each of the Twitter accounts is the real person. One thing we could do is email their official address asking them to DM a special message back, so verifying the connection between the Twitter account and their official email address.

Is this being too pedantic? Is there another simpler way we could do this? Or is this not verifying their identity clearly enough? Or, maybe we need to ask them to use a proposed simple trust mechanism? Please let me know by commenting below.

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  1. Posted May 1, 2009 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    I think we have to be pragmatic in our approach – particularly as Twitter isn’t the only tool out there in the Web 2.0 ecosystem. Also, for the most part, we’re not talking about mission critical systems. Part of the longer term solution has to be in enabling people who have an official role in government (politicians, their support staff, public servants) to have a self-service system(s) which they can update and people in the community can access in order to validate online identities for themselves. If we can automate that, so much the better (as I’ve suggested). PS Keep up the good work with OpenAustralia. :-)

  2. Posted May 3, 2009 at 4:23 am | Permalink

    Legitimacy is a key issue – it is foundational to democratic practice and is equally a foundational principle for e-democracy. An automated validation system is a great idea. It might be worthwhile that COAG or a similar group look seriously at this idea. Politicians such as Kate Lundy and SA Premier Mike Rann seem to be at the forefront of new media use – maybe they would be interested in a proposal for such a system? Great work OpenAustralia!

  3. Posted October 10, 2009 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    While twitter is great,i’m not sure if it’s the answer for contacting our politicians, nothing is better than putting pen to paper.

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