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Blogs are Op-Eds, Twitter is a Focus Group

Posted by: on Oct 25, 2008 | One Comment

That’s the upshot of Mark McKinnon’s latest:

Twitter is filling an important gap in the digital democracy — a gap that most did not even know was there. If blogs are the inner monologues that occur after we have had a chance to sit down and think, then Twitter is the internal (albeit sometimes random) thoughts that most of us have all day long. Twitter allows us to tap into the collective brain; there is something very fascinating but strangely voyeuristic about this.

And (in contrast to my heading above):

Twitter is more than just a large, unorganized focus group; it is a link to real-time constituent consciousness.

An example:

For anybody who had his or her computer open to this page while watching the debate, it would have been hard not to notice the stark contrast between the stoic live audience and the very lively online audience. It was not as dramatic a shift as the first televised debates almost 50 years ago between Kennedy and Nixon, but more subtly suggested the game has changed.

Yes, sort of. I noticed that people in my Twitter stream all seemed to think that their candidate was creaming the other one — even though they backed different candidates. Comments tended to focus on microlevel concerns such as candidates’ facial expressions, verbal missteps, perceived slights, and imagined inner dialogues of the candidates. It makes sense that these spontaneous reactions came out of this spontaneous medium. Watching these Twitter streams allows you to see memes emerging, but also the prejudgments and entrenchments that people bring to the debates. They have to be triangulated with other, less spontaneous indicators to actually mean something for elections, I think.

1 Comment

  1. John Jones
    October 25, 2008

    Or Twitter could just be a gigantic experiment to see if all reality can be subjected to MST3K-type snarky commentary 🙂

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