December 29, 2008 6 Comments
The Republican revolution will be tweeted…
I’m guessing you’ve not heard about the TCOT Report. I hadn’t until yesterday. It just started this month. But it got my attention, because it’s a really innovative use of Twitter for grass roots idea generation and discussions. Social media skeptics rail against the echo chamber of geeks talking to one another about how grand social media is. So when non-geeks start leveraging social media’s best characteristics to improve things, it warrants attention.
OK, so what is TCOT?
Top Conservatives on Twitter
This list was first placed on the web on November 28, 2008. In the short time since then, it has become a bit of a rallying point for conservatives on Twitter. I think all of us who are on the list can conceive of many additional ways to improve the list to strengthen and grow the conservative community on Twitter.
You must primarily tweet on conservative themes and cannot be merely a “campaign profile” “political office holder profile” or a “radio or television program or publication promotional profile” to be on this list. New participants are welcome. Just nominate someone you follow or yourself and show that you are primarily on Twitter as a conservative.
Hats off to Leahy on this. It appears anyone, not just those with authority, can be included in the list, so long as you talk conservative themes. Here are the top ten conservatives on Twitter right now:
The list itself is a resource for other conservatives looking to find like-minded people on Twitter.
What I found interesting was the TCOT Report.
TCOT Report: Crowdsourced Drudge Report
Leahy has set up the TCOT Report to track the news, opinion and discussion around conservative principles and politics. The real-time element of the TCOT Report is a continuous stream of tweets based on the hashtag #TCOT. Anyone can join in, as they are using the Twitter search function for this. To confirm this, I did a #TCOT tweet. Sure enough, it showed up:
And I even got a reply from someone in the TCOT community. The site also includes links to various news articles, opinion pieces and blogs.
To really understand the import of this initiative, consider the Rush Limbaugh ditto-heads.
Grass Roots Conservatism
Rush Limbaugh has millions of listeners to his daily radio show. People who are interesting in the news, and have opinions about it. The “social media” experience of this was to listen to your radio at the same time as everyone else.
When it comes time for communicating with others, there are two online formats for that: email and forums. Both have their place. Email is a great way to direct an action campaign. Forums, such as lucianne.com, are great for longer discussion threads where all comments are displayed. Twitter appears to occupy a third spot, with some overlap with those other two.
Twitter lets folks express major or minor points easily, without guilt or worrying about whether a forum thread will grow. The hash tag identifies both the message and the person. And Twitter lets everyone weigh in on the events of the day, establishing their own brand of conservatism through their series of tweets.
At its best, politics is a world based on ideas. The ability to put forth an idea and argue persuasively is a the basis for the presidential caucuses that Barack Obama did so well with.
Once the election is over, what’s a person to do with all these ideas and enthusiasm? Channel them into engaging your fellow philosophical travelers. And right now, the Republican Party is thinking hard about its next moves. Given the grassroots orientation of the party, use of social media to discuss and spread ideas seems like a terrific idea.
And so is former House Majority Leader Dick Armey:
Not bad for a site that’s been up for a few weeks so far.
The Live Real-Time Web Version of the Drudge Report
I imagine some readers of this blog don’t agree with the Republican Party. That’s not my point in writing about TCOT. What interests me is the way some basic social media tools are being used for potentially great effect.
Twitter? Never be mainstream. Hashtags? People can’t be bothered. Twitter search? Why would I want to read the garbage people write?
What TCOT is doing is showing the potential in these tools. It’s too early to tell how this initiative will turn out, but a quick scan of the #TCOT tweets shows a lot of interest in this. I suspect the Obama administration and Democratic Congress will give a lot of energy to the TCOT Report. No one will displace the Drudge Report, but adding the instant reaction, and multiple points of view on myriad subjects in real-time is something that has proven addictive elsewhere.
If nothing else, I’m glad to see the continuing experimentation with social media outside the geeksphere.
See this post on FriendFeed: