Many observers have noted that most political leaders use social media mostly for one-way communication, as it they were a podium in an electronic square. The question is not so much whether they will change their approach, as whether citizens, changing their own approach to politicians online, will force them into a different communication style.
In the last week or so, a generous group of hackers and open data activists in the Spaghetti Open Data mailing list has cooked up an app called TweetyourMEP. It reuses the dataset of EPNewsHub, an aggregator of social media activity of members of the European Parliament. With the same data, TweetyourMEP takes a very different road: rather than enable MEPs to inform us on what they think and do, they enable us to let them know what we think and care about. And no, it is not like writing letters to your representative. There is a critical difference: letters (or emails) are private – no one sees whether I have written to a political leader, nor whether he or she replies. This makes engaging with individual citizens a pretty inefficient use of time (some MEPs have constituency of millions of voters). Tweets, on the other hand, are public: a MEP engaging citizens on Twitter is making a more efficient use of her time, because she is being seen to engage by everyone in both her own and that citizen’s social network.
TweetyourMEP è un piccolo atto d’amore per la democrazia europea da parte dei civic hackers italiani. Usatelo con orgoglio e rispetto, diffondetelo, aiutateci a migliorarlo. E avanti così.TweetyourMEP is a small act of love for European democracy from Italian civic hackers. Use it with pride and respect, spread the word, help us improve it. And keep up the good work!