UK MPs and the Use of Twitter

Microblogging, Constituency Service and Impression Mangaement: UK MPs and the Use of Twitter.

Nigel Jackson and Darren Lilleker

17 Journal of Legislative Studies 86 (March 2011)


Twitter, a microblogging site which allows users to deliver statements, thoughts and links in 140 characters to followers as well as a wider Internet audience, is the latest online communications technology adopted by MPs. Assessing the use of early adopters, this article considers which MPs are most likely to use Twitter (e.g. tweeting), and how. Content analysis of tweeting MPs was conducted, and identified personal and political characteristics which may influence use. The data suggested that of the six characteristics tested, gender, party and seniority had most impact on adoption. Applying Jones and Pittman’s (1982) typology there is clear evidence that MPs use Twitter as a tool of impression management. Constituency service is a secondary function of the use of Twitter by MPs. Where MPs use Twitter as part of their constituency role it is to promote their local activity. We note that a small group of MPs use Twitter as a regular communication channel, but most are only occasionally dipping their toe into the microbloggersphere.

Trying to Save the Web’s Shortcuts

From the “Technology Journal” of today’s Wall Street Journal (Wednesday, November 25, 2009, p. B5):

Trying to Save the Web’s Shortcuts

Project Seeks to Preserve Links Behind Fledgling Services That Shrink Internet Addresses

By Andrew LaVallee

The Internet Archive and more than 20 start-ups are banding together to preserve the historical records of the abbreviated Web addresses that are passed around on services such as Twitter.

. . .

Geeks seek to make the law Googleable; RECAP in WSJ

Buried on page W13 of today’s Wall Street Journal  is a must-read piece by Katherine Mangu-Ward, “Transparency Chic.”

As the author makes clear:

. . . no aspect of government remains more locked down than the secretive, hierarchical judicial branch. Digital records of court filings, briefs and transcripts sit behind paywalls like Lexis and Westlaw. Legal codes and judicial documents aren’t copyrighted, but governments often cut exclusive distribution deals, rendering other access methods a bit legally questionable. . . .

Which leads her to discuss RECAP:

. . . [Stephen Schultz, Tim Lee and Harlan Wu] whipped up a sleek little add-on to the popular Firefox Internet browser called RECAP (PACER spelled backward). Legit users of the federal court system download it. Then each time they drop eight pennies, it deposits a copy of the page in the free Internet archive. This data joins other poached information, all of which is formatted, relabeled and made searchable—the kind of customer service government tends to skimp on. . . .

This might be the first mainstream press mention of RECAP, which is something we are all abuzz about here.

The author of the Wall Street Journal piece, Katherine Mangu-Ward, a senior editor at Reason magazine, is apparently a bit of a geek herself, giving a Twitter shoutout to those who helped her write the piece:

@kmanguward Thanks @binarybits @carlmalamud @cshirky @evwayne for info, perspective, and snappy quotes in “Transparency Chic”

@evwayne is, of course, our very own Erika Wayne who was interviewed for the piece.

My need for a “focus assistant.”

Can technology offer us “continuous augmented awareness?”

An earlier post here, commenting upon an article a year ago in The Atlantic, asked, “Is Google making us stoopid?”  Now an article in the July / August 2009 issue of the same magazine asks, “Is Google actually making us smarter?”

The article, “Get Smart,” by Jamais Cascio, discusses how Twitter can help us move from a world of “continuous partial attention” to one of “continuous augmented awareness.”  I’m a fan of Twitter but I find it hard to quickly sift through tweets about pancakes to the ones that provide truly valuable and timely information (not that pancakes aren’t important, but I use Twitter mainly for work).  Here’s what Mr. Cascio writes:

But imagine if social tools like Twitter had a way to learn what kinds of messages you pay attention to, and which ones you discard. Over time, the messages that you don’t really care about might start to fade in the display, while the ones that you do want to see could get brighter. Such attention filters–or focus assistants–are likely to become important parts of how we handle our daily lives. We’ll move from a world of “continuous partial attention” to one we might call “continuous augmented awareness.”

The article suggests that:

The trouble isn’t that we have too much information at our fingertips, but that our tools for managing it are still in their infancy. and

Remixing government data

“Last year, before he took on the role of federal chief information officer, Vivek Kundra came up with a new twist on the idea of government by the people: Let the people build some public-facing online government applications. . . Of course, repackaging government data for education and profit is nothing new. Dozens of businesses generate income by deciphering the notices that fly across the Federal Register and Federal Business Opportunities Web sites every day. But a recent confluence of technical and political factors portends a much wider use of government data. With Web 2.0 technology, anyone with some coding skills can make their own use of well-formed government data. And with the Obama administration calling for greater government transparency, Kundra wants to replicate D.C.’s success on a national level via the soon-to-be-launched site.”


New Consolidated Government Information Stream

Launched May 3rd, GovFresh “is a live feed of official news from U.S. Government Twitter, YouTube, RSS, Facebook, Flickr accounts and more, all in one place.”

As an instructor of Advanced Legal Research I find the updates from the Law Revision Counsel to be particularly useful.  For example:

US Code: House has passed H.R. 1107, to enact Title 41 (Public Contracts) as positive law. For details of the bill, see


Source: The Intersect Alert, a newsletter of the Government Relations Committee, San Francisco Bay Region Chapter, Special Libraries Association.

On the front lines of Twitter with founders Stone and Williams

From today’s Wall Street Journal (Saturday/Sunday, April 18 – 19, 2009, p. A11):

THE WEEKEND INTERVIEW with Evan Williams and Biz Stone / By Michael S. Malone

The Twitter Revolution

From the article:

“Under the guise of a fun communications tool, Twitter is building one of the world’s most valuable real-time information caches.”

President Obama’s social-networking maven

From a feature article in today’s San Jose Mercury News, “Obama’s Bay Area brain trust:”

Sonal Shah

The White House hasn’t made it official, but’s Shah has e-mailed her work colleagues that she’s headed to the White House as director of social innovation and civic engagement. Easiest translation for her title: social-networking maven. Obama has often promised to make the inner workings of government, and his own White House, more transparent and interactive. Shah will be part of a team, including a chief information officer and still-to-be-named chief technology officer, charged with figuring out how to integrate Web 2.0 tools into a government digital network historically hobbled by massive bureaucracy. . . .  “Tweets” from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. could be coming soon.

Dispatch from Seattle on the Association of College and Research Libraries conference and the coming Borg Collective

Our Serials and E-Resources librarian Brian Provenzale just returned from Seattle where he attended the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) conference, and files this very interesting report:

This was an unusual conference for me in that it didn’t involve either cataloging or law librarianship. ACRL itself is also unusual for library conferences in that it consists mostly of presentations based on contributed, peer-reviewed papers. The sessions I attended were all about Web-based services. The Twitter session was provocative because the speaker declared that blogs were “old-fashioned” and that he had no interest in reading them because they are too long. The jury is still out on the usefulness of Twitter, but there’s no denying it is a sweeping phenomenon that could end up changing library services and the way we deliver information.

My favorite session was on “post-literacy.” Although wildly speculative, the presentation made a good case that literacy would eventually be replaced just as literacy replaced oral tradition. But what would it evolve into? Some examples: Is life too short to learn everything you want? Live on by downloading your consciousness to a silicon-based body. Too much information to talk/write/read about? Get a chip implanted to interface directly with computers. Need to learn French immediately? Take a pill. There was also talk about electronic enhancements that would allow our brains to communicate “telepathically” and enable us to work as a hive mind. Think: the Borg on Star Trek.  Some creepy implications here, but at least most of it isn’t likely to happen in our lifetimes. The overarching implication, though, is that the information age isn’t  going to end for a long time. If anything, it’s only beginning.

Read the Bill & More

Lots of fresh air today: 

-Noon-time twitter ‘rally’ for the Yes We Scan campaign (#yeswescan) for Carl Malamud

-Just in from the Sunlight Foundation:

In our Read the Billcampaign we are advocating that all bills be placed online for 72 hours prior to consideration. Specifically, the Read the Billcampaign asks that bills be accessible, in text format, online and posted to a commonly visited web site, GPO or THOMAS.

And, midnight tonight (ET):

“Wired is officially launching “ Is Coming — Let’s Help Build It,”a wiki designed to find and identify important and valuable data sets held by the federal government, and to make them available and usable. ” [snippet from the  Sunlight Foundation]

Twitter Rally Transcript – #YesWeScan

Transcript (transtwit?) of today’s Twitter rally for YesWeScan Campaign of Carl Malamud:

[tap tap] Is this thing on? We’ll be starting in 10 minutes. Nice crowd! Please make yourself comfortable. Thanks for coming!

Welcome to RALLY FOR THE PUBLIC DOMAIN! or #YesWeScan to follow. Rally will be my 13 tweets + whatever you add.

For soundtrack, we recommend this patriotic medley by U.S. Military Bands. Enjoy! via  #YesWeScan.

[ahem] My fellow netizens. Thank you for tweeting with me today. #YesWeScan is a vision and a plan for how GPO and .gov talk to the world.

Platform has emphasized jobs, librarians, and security of all Americans. Nation’s publisher since 1861 must be ready for future. #YesWeScan

We should embrace new role for GPO, a center to public domain based on principles of open data/open source as key role for .gov. #YesWeScan

A strong and vibrant publisher for 3 branches of government will maintain jobs, refocus GPO to publish across all media. #YesWeScan

Am announcing today concluding front porch portion of campaign at end of week, will journey to Washington, DC, nation’s capitol. #YesWeScan

Will engage in dialogue with all 3 branches of .gov. Video from congress, PACER from courts, offer to donate data to executive. #YesWeScan

1,000+ of you have sent Acks-of-Approval, Tweets-of-Endorsement. Am very grateful. Will channel Gus, create nomination book. #YesWeScan

I wish to ask you now to join with me and send message to Washington. Will harvest your tweets, forward them to the White House. #YesWeScan

#YesWeScan I ask you: Can we work together to make America’s Operating System open source, so that law is accessible for all? Can We Scan??

#YesWeScan! Can we have a .gov that listens as well as it talks? A government that uses the Internet instead of fearing it? Can We Scan!?

#YesWeScan! Can we all work together to reclaim the public domain? Can We Scan!?

#YesWeScan! #YesWeScan!

#YesWeScan! Thank you for your support, I hope we can continue this dialogue from DC. Thanks so much for coming! Feel free to hang around.

[takes off suit and tie, puts on leather apron, starts working on nomination book. wow. that was cool!! thanks folks!]

You folks are great … thanks so much for your support! #YesWeScan!