John Naughton: Old media, new media and the UK election. The whole piece is worth a read (as, I suspect, is the Peter Preston article he quoted from, which I haven’t read in full).
It’s certainly an interesting counterpoint to the Economist’s piece, quoted here, which claims that the old media are dominant. Perhaps the problem is the millions of overlapping friends networks of discussion aren’t visible, but they surely take what used to be water-cooler discussions between five colleagues in an office and broaden them to a hundred, or even thousand, people - and more immediately, too.
Anyway, I’m sure there’ll still be argument about old vs new well after the result’s in.
Media and politics: The shock of the old in The Economist. The entire article is worth a read: it points out the ways the mass media still reach far more people, particularly older ones, who also vote more.
There were two other articles in the Britain section this week that caught my eye. One is on university students in Chester and elsewhere, and the other looks at how people’s opinions change when the costs of policies are stated. Both are worth a read, but the latter is perhaps the most universally relevant (and will be long after this election has come and gone).
@madmw asks in a comment on Daniel Jalkut’s sensible (if verging on obvious) guide to Twitter style:
What about people protecting their tweets? Protect from who? Don’t they use twitter search?
My Twitter account is private, and so are those of many people I follow, so I thought I’d make some suggestions as to why I’m private, and answer the other two questions.
When I set up my account in November 2006, it was far from clear how Twitter was going to be used, but I thought of it more as IM than blogging. For the first year and a half of using the service, that privacy gave me the freedom to do some of the things Jalkut rightly suggests public users don’t do: make posts that were filled with swears, heated, political, or otherwise offensive. It also allowed me to vent about work. (Past tense there: I moved to a job where I had less need to, and also where pretty much every co-worker and I were mutual followers. That’s probably going to be the case for any job I actually want from now onwards, too.)
So, who am I protecting myself from? My future professional self, really. Early in the current UK election campaign, a candidate with some rather ill-judged postings was removed by his party. I don’t think I’ve said anything quite as stupid as that, but I quite like having more freedom to do so than those whose timelines are public, and I really don’t want to have to go back and purge the “old me”.
Does privacy carry a downside? Of course. As you note, searches don’t find private posts, so even if I wanted to contribute to a conference’s notes via a hashtag, I can’t. (The bonus side of this is I hate the aesthetics of hashtags, so it’s not a great loss.) Many third-party tools, even now OAuth is deployed, don’t work on private accounts. For me, the most noticeable problem is that the methods described for making sure people know you’re talking about them - acknowledgements, mentions and replies - don’t work if the person they’re directed at isn’t following you. Still, I’d use the first two anyway - people who follow me deserve to know where thing come from.
(Are there any etiquette recommendations for interacting with private users? The main one is to be mindful when quoting them. Twitter doesn’t allow private posts to be retweeted, although of course you can do so organically (to use Jalkut’s term); think about whether, if you’d written the post, you’d want it public, and if not, ask permission first. Otherwise, there’s nothing really I can think of.)
I doubt there’s much in the last year or so I’d be ashamed to have made public. Nonetheless, if only for that first, grumpy, year of posts, I keep my timeline private, and I’m glad I have the option, even if a vanishingly tiny percentage of users share my opinion.