Posts Tagged ‘Twitter’

Twitter: The Medium Doesn’t Have to be the Message….
Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

This week, New Democratic Party Member of Parliament Charlie Angus, an inveterate tweeter, bid adieu to the Twitterverse. He acknowledges being a big fan/user of social media but fears that Twitter is “morphing into a bully pulpit for trolls. It is a technology that favours the flash mob.” He goes on to say “that the digital mob is no different from a street mob. It can be excitable, good-natured or vicious, but don’t ever mistake the mob for democracy.”

Angus laments receiving hate filled and ignorant tweets about Attawapiskat, and fears that Twitter is undermining “fact finding and verification.”  Commenting on recent tweet attacks on his singing ability and other mindless ad hominem volleys, he expresses his disenchantment – “Being on Twitter is like being badgered by a drunk on a 24-hour bus ride.’ (and as a northern Ontario boy he knows of what he speaks!).

While Angus raises valid and serious concerns, the object of his criticism is off.  There is no doubt that social media in general and Twitter in particular, are influencing how we engage with each other and how we process information and we all should be more mindful about how we use this powerful technology. However, it is erroneous to place the blame on the technology itself.  The technology is neutral –it is all about how we use that technology – for good (and as Angus himself notes that during the Attawapiskat crisis the positive tweets far outnumbered the negative), for evil or simply for inane purposes. Human behaviour and motivation is the real culprit, not the technology. On Twitter, you’ll find the good, the bad, the useful, the useless, the beautiful and the ugly!

The poverty of political talk, trivial and banal remarks, uninformed and mindless commentary, knee-jerk responses, deliberately misleading quotes etc in Twitterverse are not a reflection of Twitter but rather symptoms of our impoverished public discourse.  As Pogo says ……”We have met the enemy… and he is us”.  If we want a better Twitterverse, we need to create it. Come on back Charlie Angus.

At Ascentum we strive to use social media and online engagement to elevate not degrade public discourse.

-Mary Pat MacKinnon-

@ascentum tweets of the week
Friday, February 10th, 2012

Here are just some of the Twitter posts and links that we’d like to pass on from this week. You can find us on Twitter at

  • Quote: “The 21st Century is a lousy time to be a control freak” Perhaps the sound byte of the day #openpolicy (Retweet from @SBTaskForce, during a conference on open policy development and collaboration that Ascentum attended at the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs & International Trade)

-Stephan Telka-

@ascentum tweets of the week
Thursday, September 29th, 2011

Here are some of the Twitter posts and links that we’d like to pass on from this week. You can find us on Twitter at

  • Survey Results: 54% of Canadians would engage more with government if there were ways to participate online.
  • Retweet from @elliswestwood: National Assembly of Wales video to launch public consultation on bilingual services. #demopart
  • @ascentum blog: @nenshi Thanks for inspiring at the Public Consultation & #publicengmt conference in TO this week! You inspired a blog
  • Video: Interesting facts & figures in this video on the “Social Media Revolution 2011″
  • From the U.S.: The U.S. National Issues Forum is engaging Americans on the National Debt using Second Life #demopart #publicengmt


@ascentum tweets of the week
Friday, June 3rd, 2011

Here are just some the Twitter posts and links that we’d like to pass on from this week.  You can find us on Twitter at

  • Quote: Calgary Mayor @nenshi “we make better decisions when we involve people in our decision making”
  • Retweet: @Healthy_Weights After a break for #elxn41, Canada’s first national dialogue on childhood obesity is back! #healthyweights
  • News: We agree. Now’s a great time to engage Canadians in a public dialogue on the Senate & ways to make it more effective.
  • @ascentum blog: How to produce same-day reports for in-person dialogues that will seem, to participants, like magic!

Twitter, Dialogue and #elxn41
Friday, May 13th, 2011

Here at Ascentum, we’re really interested in how people are using social media to connect, get involved, and engage in dialogue on issues that matter to them.

That’s why I volunteered to be part of a small team led by digital guru Mark Blevis (@MarkBlevis) that looked at how people were using Twitter on the night of Canada’s 2011 federal election.

In space provided by The Canadian Press (thanks @CdnPress_Ott!) we spent a fun evening together following the posts, unfolding events and the stream on Twitter related to the election.

We used a Canadian social media monitoring tool called Sysomos to find and follow the traffic.  Using a powerful and customized search, we were able to pinpoint and track posts that mentioned any one of over 100 keywords or criteria.  For a detailed analysis of results, I’d recommend visiting Mark’s ongoing research at

Lots of traffic, but less dialogue

That night, I was excited to see the high level of interest, buzz and traffic about the election on Twitter.  At the end of the night, we measured a total of 90,150 election tweets, from 45,075 users.  There was a community of Twitter users across Canada, and beyond, sharing the same real-time experience of democracy in action.  There was genuine engagement in the process.

What I didn’t see as much of, however, was real dialogue.  By dialogue, I don’t just mean people talking to each other.  As practitioners have observed, dialogue is to “honestly expressing perspectives, clarifying viewpoints, and developing solutions. The goal of dialogue is to deepen understanding and judgment, and to think about ways to make a difference on an issue.”

Understandably, on election night, people were more focused on news and results than policy issues.  However, even during the campaign, though, the twitter traffic on #elxn41 seemed to be more partisan than “transpartisan” – people looking beyond party politics to engage in dialogue on bigger issues of public concern.

It will definitely be interesting to see how the Twitter community continues to evolve in the future and whether members can shift the interaction to facilitate more dialogic exchange.

Mark, Stephanie and Nygel: same place next time?

– Ellis Westwood -

@ascentum tweets of the week
Friday, March 25th, 2011

Here are just some the Twitter posts and links that we’d like to pass on from this week.  You can find us on Twitter at

@ascentum tweets of the week
Friday, February 25th, 2011

Here are just some the Twitter posts and links that we’d like to pass on from this week.  You can find us on Twitter at

  • Study: When governments share info, people feel better about their community (via @EllnMllr)
  • Resource: If govt consultation online interests you @transportgovuk’s latest is interesting: (RT@lesteph)
  • Resource: For all you facilitators out there: The art of giving instructions (via@davidkahane)
  • @Ascentum Blog: Recovery in Haiti – Using the Power of Dialogue (by @stephantelka)
  • News: House of Commons approves Twitter, Facebook apps for MPs #Gov2.0 #OpenGov (via @mdassinger)

@ascentum tweets of the week
Friday, December 17th, 2010

Here are just some the Twitter posts and links that we’d like to pass on from this week.  You can find us on Twitter at

  • New Ascentum blog post: Adding the right images to your engagement website (so people don’t ignore them!)
  • Resources: Tools for the institutionalization of public engagement (PDF) #edem (Retweet from @participatory)
  • Resources: 24 ways to keep your blog interesting to you and your readers (Retweet from @GovNewMedia)
  • Resources: Nice blog! This is a nice model for #engagement sites, too. “Landing Pages: A Great Infographic” (RT @scottica)
  • @ascentum news: @elliswestwood Briefing Management at the Public Health Agency of Canada this am. Exciting online/social media #engagement on obesity to come in 2011!

@ascentum tweets of the week
Friday, November 19th, 2010

Here are just some the Twitter posts and links that we’d like to pass on from this week.  You can find us on Twitter at

  • Ascentum blog: “Fostering International Dialogue and Youth Engagement in Laos
  • Study: “Online public participation most effective among young people who are already online
  • Resource: For a great explanation of why #PublicEngagement is so important, read The Change Foundation’s Strategic Plan [Ascentum client]
  • Blog: “How can new media help civic engagement? (@Afine @leifutne @jdlasica)
  • Retweet: RT @INgageNetworks: Recommended: “Using Social Media Platforms to Amplify Public Health Messaging #hcsm

How to use Smartphones to make your next in-person dialogue awesome!
Friday, September 3rd, 2010

Smartphones bring the world into users’ hands.  Web access, Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia and apps allow people to access, share and co-create knowledge in real time.

They are also powerful tools that can make in-person dialogues awesome – both in terms of generating shared information and giving participants a more engaging experience.  

And, researchers estimate that there are over 5 million Canadians with Smartphones.  They are becoming more common as tools for business and/or personal use.

Earlier this week, we read a great blog by Dwayne at called “35 Ways to Use an iPhone in a Workshop”.  Some are there for fun but there are quite a few thoughtful ways to use iPhones or other Smartphones in workshop.

Here are our favourite 5:

Camera: Use it to snap pictures of group activities, flip charts, and other knowledge products participants create during small group breakouts.  These can be analyzed and included in reports, as well as shared online.

Video: Use it to capture the “story” of the day – the opening, group interactions, individual conversations, and even personal “what I learned” or reflections interviews at the end of the event.  This could be easily edited and kept as a time capsule, shared with participants only or posted online for the broader community experience the event as well.

Twitter: With an LCD display and active search enabled, use it to ask participants questions and have them @message or DM replies.  140 characters isn’t much, but it can help participants express their ideas concisely!  (You can read an earlier blog with more tips for using Twitter at in-person events here)

Wikipedia app or Google search: Use them to check facts, conduct quick research and bring additional knowledge to play to inform deliberations and make they are truly evidence-informed.

Networking: Use it to help participants build professional networks or stay in touch.  On the free Bump App for iPhones, participants can “bump” fists with their devices and exchange contact information wirelessly.  It’s as easy as shaking hands… only more fun.

A big thanks to @learningcycle for a great blog that got us thinking…

Ellis Westwood & Stephan Telka

How to use Twitter to make your next in-person dialogue better
Friday, January 15th, 2010

At its core, Twitter is a community-building tool.  In this blog, we’ll share ways you can build a Twitter community around your in-person dialogue events so they are engaging, create a stock of shared knowledge and make the results more sustainable. (more…)