Debate? What About a Twibate Canadian Style?

As we enter the election period I thought it might be timely to share something I stumbled on a few months ago.  Through the wonderful world of Twitter I came across a tweet from Kirk Schmidt who is one of a number of folk involved in CalgaryPolitics.com.  They are:

“Bloggers, pundits, and citizens, trying to cover civic politics in a semi-organized way, to share the burden each of us thought we’d have to shoulder alone, cover the races and candidates that the mainstream media can’t or won’t, and maybe add a hint of mischief to what is typically a NOTORIOUSLY dry subject, covered in notoriously dry ways.”

I recommend a detailed look at their site – they are doing some brilliant stuff designed to facilitate interest and engagement in politics.  One specific piece of work they have initiated involves the use of Twitter for political debating purposes.  It’s called a Twibate.  Full details of the what and the how are captured by Kurt and his colleagues.  In essence –

“The Twibate is an opportunity to have the candidates online, answering questions in a debate, combined with opportunity for any follower to engage, ask follow-up questions, and learn more about the candidates in one place.  11 mayoralty candidates have Twitter so far, as do almost 30 aldermanic candidates.”

I think there might be some real opportunities here for local government in this country.  Using social media to generate interest in and engagement and dialogue with politicians has got to be something worth considering in more detail.

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Half-time reflections on progress

‘21st Century Councillor’ Using Social Media to Support Local Leadership – So, we have now completed half of our scheduled sessions for this small tour of the Yorkshire & Humber Region. With two more to go, we thought it a good idea to provide a flavour of what we have learned and map any progress made so far. Read on…

The two sessions held so far, in Scunthorpe and Scarborough, have been attended by 26 councillors. A further 19 are booked onto the Leeds session, and currently 12 for Barnsley. So, we’re at the half way point, and below outlines progress to date.

We did a live blog as to how the sessions were going and what topics they covered, as it was happening. This provides a real feel for how participative and open the sessions were, and how the councillors directed the content, searching out what using social media meant to them. The links to those two blog entries are here: Scunthorpe 2010 and Scarborough 2010.

Councillor involvement guided us to produce a number of learning materials of relevance to them, not something we just thrust upon them:  How to set up a blog; Add a new post and insert an image; Some tips on twitter.

The events have deliberately not been ‘traditional training’ sessions. The sessions have been primarily guided by the councillors attending, not ‘officers telling councillors what to do’. To this end, traditional evaluation of the course becomes less important. What is best measured is the ‘distance travelled’ element of individual councillors. As there are so many different variations of skill, attitude, understanding and, yes, enthusiasm, we have generated a predominantly narrative/qualitative measurement. This was done by a ‘3 question’ approach, of ‘start’, ‘middle’ and ‘end’. Of course, more specific analysis of the feedback will be conducted, and learning taken forward to future sessions.