Yell at your Senator, or listen to your neighbors? Another use for Govluv and Twitter.

Posted: November 13th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Govluv, Twitter | Tags: | 1 Comment »

Govluv, a new Twitter-based tool, provides a geographically-organized directory of political and governmental leaders along with their Twitter handles. It also allows politicians to identify tweets from their constituents. It is billed as a way for “connecting government representatives and citizens”, for a “more productive two-way dialogue”.

However, I had an experience yesterday that suggests it may have another important use.

I was reviewing my Govluv home page, headed up by President Obama, and I noticed this tweet:
Not rhetorical: cld some1 plz giv me an example of when @BarackObama has apologized 4 a mistake he's personally made? Gates&Crowley? #tcot
I did a quick search and replied to @chosen7stone:
@chosen7stone Obama: 'I screwed up' on Daschle appointment http://bit.ly/4kFFgr CNN 090204
She graciously retweeted the information and thanked me.

A minor interaction all around, and certainly not one that will find any deep resonance or response in the White House. Yet I think that the dynamics highlight what may be one of the more important uses of tools such as Govluv.

Obama was not part of the conversation, not part of the two way dialogue. Instead, he served as context, and the important, indeed the only, interaction was between two citizens. What if this became a primary use of Govluv?

For instance, it’s not surprising that Senator Harry Reid, the Majority Leader, is getting a lot of tweets from his constituents regarding Health Care Reform. Instead of waiting for his office to reply, what if constituents discussed the issues with one another, e.g by providing facts on how a particular bill would affect Nevada? Or what if supporters of a particular position, e.g. the Public Option, used the tweetstream Govluv provides to find one another and organize further?

Our fascination with our political leaders should not keep us from talking, or tweeting, with one another on the issues. Think of @BarackObama and @SenatorReid as hashtags convening conversations, not just handles.