Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Twitter as an opinion tool - as used to follow the US election

Just as organisations are beginning to listen to the conversations about them on forums, in blogs and in online newspaper comments, Twitter has become a powerful and important mechanism for tracking US public opinion during the US Presidential election.

In a custom-built application, Twitter has used its search and trending tools to build an updating commentary on the election, visible at http://election.twitter.com.

Thinking back to the days of tickertape news releases and stock updates, this is a high-tech equivalent reflecting the views of US Twitter users.

With the integration of a mention weighting system and positive/negative indications,it would be possible for any politician or organisation to get a 24/7 view of their public sentiment.

Any sudden changes in the normal flow of comments could then be mined to detect and pre-emptively prepare for issues before they reach the broader media.

For the sceptics, who do not see Twitter as a valid channel for government communication with the public or media, here's a list of US government 'A-list' Twitterers, including the White House, Senator Obama and a selection of State Governors and large US agencies.

And for those who like poetry and the big picture, 3D Twittervision provides an interesting global insight - particularly during major crises.


  1. Do you think that the Australian Government offices could introduce twitter internally without having it run away with what happened last night on Desperate Housewives.

    There are so many great networking/communication tools out there but they are often abused by general staff and as such, no longer considered for government (especially when it comes to Local Gov)

  2. Hi Justin,

    There are policies, procedures and codes of conduct in place to address abuses.

    Surely if we can manage to allow staff to all have a phone and email we can give them access to some other networking/communications tools.