The 2010 Australian Twitter Election

 In social networking

I landed in Sydney at 5:30am on Saturday from London and by the time I had arrived at the hotel and checked in, the TV channels were buzzing with the news that the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard was about to call a Federal Election.

All of the commentators were calling this the “twitter election” as apparently Julia had tweeted that people should enrol to vote.

[in Australia, voting is compulsory, and you must enrol to vote before the writs are issued.]

In today’s weekend papers,  there was a brief article (shown below) titled “tweeting your way to victory” which also stated that “the August 21 poll will be the first Twitter election”. So there you have it – it’s official that the 2010 Australian Federal Election will be THE TWITTER ELECTION.

Give me a break.  In the UK we also heard this for the 2010 General election.  What actually happened was that it was really a TV election, which was augmented by the use of twitter and other social networking sites.  Sure, twitter was used heavily during the Leader’s debates, but when you moved outside the social media echo chamber, the average person in the street wasn’t paying too much attention to what was being said on or about twitter.

Indeed, the media in the UK (and clearly here in Australia also) has a strange fascination with twitter.  On one hand, they seem scared of the medium because it can break news faster than they can.  On the other hand, they love twitter because on a slow news day, twitter can either become the news (“look what’s happening on twitter”), or what is being discussed on twitter becomes the news (mainly by lazy Journalists).

Whenever I present at conferences I am very careful not to claim that twitter will take over the world and become the only way that we consume our information.

Just as radio did not kill the cinema, and the internet did not kill TV, social media will not displace existing media channels.

Here in Australia, I predict also (boldly some may say) that the 2010 Australian Federal election will NOT be the twitter election.

The ABC (Australian equivalent of the BBC) is just about to launch a 24 hour news channel on freeview digital TV, so I am sure that the TV news channels such as Sky News Australia will not want twitter to become the only source of news.

I had to have a chuckle when in the Sunday papers, consecutive pages carried ads for the various TV networks – all claiming they would have the best/fastest/most trusted election coverage.

I look forward to the Federal Election coverage while I am here in Australia, but know that again TV will dominate the coverage (with a liberal smattering of twitter thrown in).

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Based in London, Practical Futurist and former Global Managing Partner at IBM, Andrew Grill is a popular and sought-after presenter and commentator on issues around digital disruption, workplace of the future and new technologies such as blockchain. Andrew is a multiple TEDx and International Keynote Speaker.