Politicians Embracing Technology To Actually Communicate With Constituents

from the warms-my-heart dept

There have been plenty of stories over the years about politicians (especially presidential candidates) embracing the internet. However, they're usually focused on bringing together communities of supporters, often for fundraising purposes. There hasn't been as much where it's really about the politician actually communicating directly with the people he or she represents. There was a period of time when politicians started using email, but most have since locked down the ability of people to contact them via email, limiting it to cumbersome forms. However, it appears that some politicians are figuring out ways to actually use technology effectively to directly communicate with the people they're supposed to represent.

There was some buzz this evening (I'm guessing kicked off by a post by Robert Scoble about politicians embracing technology in DC) with people pointing out that a Texas congressman named John Culberson has his own Twitter account. If you look at it, it's pretty clear that it's Culberson himself who's using it -- and he's actually talking and listening to what people are saying to him. He's also using the mobile phone video streaming service Qik to shine some sunlight on what actually happens in Congress -- and even tried (but wasn't allowed) to do a video with the President from the Oval Office, but was stopped by the Secret Service. There's another congressman named Tim Ryan who is also on Twitter, though he's not following anyone else or talking with anyone else -- just communicating one way.

This evening, Culberson also hosted a "Virtual Town Hall" meeting on his own website. Apparently he's been hosting town hall meetings via a phone system which dials a bunch of constituents in his district and lets them ask him questions -- but he expanded it tonight to the internet using Ustream, broadcast video and allowing text chat too. Watching the video, you see quite clearly that it's just him talking directly to people. There's no one "screening" the calls or limiting who is saying what to him -- and he's not shying away from questions at all. Whether or not you agree with him politically (and there's plenty I disagree with him on), it's fascinating to see an elected official in DC actually embracing technology to communicate directly with people in a way that isn't just him broadcasting a message to people. It's also impressive to see politicians using technology to communicate with (not to) people, rather than hide from them (or just to squeeze money out of them). Hopefully other politicians will start to do the same thing.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Dan, Jun 26th, 2008 @ 8:16pm

    The method used is irrelevant. It's good that they are talking and allegedly listening. However, on the issues of major importance our politicians are already bought and paid for by Corporate America and big media. Everything else is just minor tweaking in an attempt to keep us happy.

     

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  2.  
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    toivo, Jun 27th, 2008 @ 12:02am

    Haa ... You are easily amused. How that differs from answering email, phone calls and having meetings (f-2-f) with voters.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    Mike (profile), Jun 27th, 2008 @ 12:51am

    Re:

    Haa ... You are easily amused. How that differs from answering email, phone calls and having meetings (f-2-f) with voters.

    Actually, it's quite different if you take a look. This goes beyond all of that, in allowing much easier access to him.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
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    Abdul, Jun 27th, 2008 @ 8:40am

    Just another political gimmick!!!

    I don't have any faith in these guys involvement in social media. Knowingly that most people are into social media, one should not get too carried away with politicians buying their wauy into social networking. It's all about "mining the crowds" and nothing else according to this well written blog: Politicos Abusing Social Network (http://www.internetevolution.com/author.asp?section_id=466&doc_id=142236&F_src=flftwo)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
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    Jonathan, Aug 4th, 2008 @ 12:15pm

    other's on twitter

    GOPLeader, petehookstra, NRCC and ericcantor are all on twitter and all representatives.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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