Using Twitter for Gov 2.0 Research

I originally wrote this blog for wikinomics.com, but I thought it would fit well here.  Here’s a quick explanation of how I use Twitter for research purposes, which will hopefully give some insight into how Twitter is a valuable Web 2.0 tool, and not just a means of stalking Ashton Kutcher.

First, I’ll briefly explain my Twitter identity.  f you want to follow me, my Twitter name is @A_Marsh. You’ll notice that 3/4 of my posts are very short comments designed to entice followers to click through on links I’ve provided (many of which are in the Wikinomics theme). Essentially, I use Twitter as a gateway to substantive content, a style of Tweeting that revolves around drawing attention to longer, more substantial sources.

As far as using Twitter as a research tool, I generally follow other user who also use it as a gateway to more substantive content. For me, Twitter is something like a news condenser, or a filter. I’ve handpicked a series of intelligent users to follow on Twitter, users who filter through the glut of information available on the web, and highlight what they believe to be the most useful and important. If you pick out the right users to follow, it can be akin to having an entire team of researchers working for you, pro-bono and in realtime.

So here’s two examples of how I’ve used Twitter to stay up to date on developments in the world of Government 2.0.

In the Gov2.0 space, there have been a series of conferences this year (or rather, unconferences) that I’ve been unable to attend. Yet I was still able to follow the updates and view most of the same resources as the attendees for events like transparency camp and Government 2.0 camp, mainly through Twitter. As more and more events are broadcasted live online, having Twitter users to alert you in realtime is incredibly valuable. The use of hashtags on Twitter makes this even easier, with tags being added to Tweets, thus making them more searchable. Do a Twitter search on #gov20 and youll see what I mean.

Twitter also allows me to follow, in realtime, individuals with similar research interests. For example, one of my interests happens to be participatory government, and I’ve come across a researcher named Tiago Peixoto whose work is very relevant to my own. I started to follow him on Twitter – @participatory – and upon reading through his backlog of Tweets, I came across dozens of useful links and articles on participation. None of his Tweets are narcissistic, self-aggrandizing or personalized in any way. Almost everything he Tweets is relevant and of interest to me. So now, every time he comes across a good resource on participatory government, I am immediately alerted to it via Twitter. In the research world, that’s an incredible resource for collaboration.

Finally, I’d like to post my Twitter #FollowFriday recommendations for the week, all of whom fall into the Gov2.0 space: @Corbett3000, @participatory, @johnwonderlich, @govloop, @govwiki, @markelliot.

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