I admit that I have been having a tough time figuring out how to really use twitter. So many of the examples I have encountered seem rather prosaic—ways for friends to keep in touch—not that there is anything wrong with that. But finally I have seen some examples of how twitter is being used that has broader implications.
I was listening to a piece about two bloggers—one in Israel and one in the Gaza strip. One Israeli—one Palestinian. And these two bloggers have never met- yet they have managed to forge a relationship and understanding that transcends the often anonymous world of blogging. One is named Peace Man and one is called Hope Man—and they have been corresponding with each other for over a year. What is amazing about this is the care and concern that has developed between the two men. And it is a pity that there are not more opportunities for Palestinians and Israelis to interact in this fashion.
At any rate—following up on this story I found an interesting piece on how the Israelis and Arabs are using twitter and different social media to convey information when journalists are barred from the Gaza strip.
In the Israeli case, the Israeli consulate has launched a twitter feed that posts the Israeli side of the Gaza story and is able to get their point of view out quickly. They are sending out facts like “More than 10,000 rockets were launched from Gaza towards israel in the last 8 years,” and tons of links to articles that support their point of view. Whether you agree with the statements or not—it is clearly a smart way to get short messages out to a large group of people in minutes. In one short week they have 143 updates and over 4000 followers.
On the Arab side of the fence, Al-Jazeera is updating constantly using twitter and text message updates on this website.Since they have not been able to get correspondents into the Gaza territory they have been using twitter and SMS to get information. Of course that presents a problem in terms of the validity of the information- but that is probably true with every situation where “news” is being produced by non-journalists.
So—my takeaway on this—great examples of how “news” can be desemminated—in one case by the Israeli government to give their point of view, and in another by the official mouthpiece of the Arab world. In both cases, buyer beware. Clearly neither side is presenting both sides of the story—and the reporting is clearly biased. But both sides have clearly figured out another way to get messages out quickly to their respective audiences. And I for one, now understand the power of twittering.