At Royal Ascot, Black Caviar Wins Her 22nd Race

Well, it’s important political news, isn’t it?

The Twitter hashtag #BlackCaviar went berserk before, during and after the race. This is a short video I took of my TweetDeck screen. At its peak it was twice as fast as this. In four years of Twitter use, I can’t recall any topic attracting such volume and speed of posts.

Eight Observations About How I Use Twitter


I joined Twitter in April 2008 – thanks @RicRaftis. Like most people, I didn’t know what to do with it and for several months I barely went near it. When I did, I tweeted about technology and the internet.

TwitterThen I started tweeting about Australian and American politics. Later in the year, I began tweeting Question Time, political speeches, press conferences and other media appearances by politicians.

At the time, as far as I knew, no-one else was doing this. Most media people were yet to discover Twitter. Politicians were all but unseen. I often felt I was talking to myself.

Around this time, I began to make contact with people besides PR, marketing and internet types. Bloggers with an interest in politics were flocking to Twitter, as were many others.

The big moment came in March 2009 when I tweeted the Queensland election results. I simply sat at my desk at home with the Queensland Electoral Commission website open and the ABC’s Queensland television feed streaming online. Hundreds of new followers came my way that night and I ended up on commercial radio commenting on the results. It opened my eyes to Twitter’s potential.

I decided I needed a consistent approach so I stopped tweeting about technology and internet issues and made politics my focus. I noticed that Twitter was driving traffic to my main website,

By mid-2009, my current approach to Twitter was firmly established. Each night when I sat down to read the next morning’s newspapers online, a ritual I’d followed for years, I would tweet links and occasional comments to articles I thought were worth reading for one reason or another. I was curating content. [Read more…]

Bin Laden, Twitter, And Gaudy Media Baubles

At 12.15pm yesterday afternoon, I turned on ABC News24 and was told that Barack Obama was due to appear on television at 12.30pm. There was no information on what he intended talking about.

Since this was 10.30pm on a Sunday night in Washington, you didn’t need to be particularly bright to work out that something was up. Obviously there was an announcement that couldn’t wait. Without really thinking about it, I assumed it was related to Afghanistan or Iraq.

I had work to do and didn’t get back to the television until 12.35pm. Obama had not yet appeared. I opened up my Twitter client, TweetDeck, and discovered reports that Osama bin Laden was dead.

By about 12.50pm, multiple media outlets were claiming they had confirmed these reports. Many of these claims were tweeted. Some tweets contained a link to a website report.

Between 12.30pm and 1.35pm when Obama finally appeared (at 11.35pm Washington time) most television stations and every cable network were all over the story. Twitter was heaving.

A number of people retweeted Keith Urbahn, Chief of Staff to Donald Rumsfeld. Urbahn is now seen as the man who first published the news about bin Laden.

During this time, I also became aware of a Twitter user @ReallyVirtual, who had unwittingly tweeted about the assault on bin Laden’s compound as it happened. Many hours later, I looked at his account, read the tweets, and laughed at his dry humour.

Keith Urbahn's tweet at 10.24pm Washington time, May 2, 2011

Tweet by @ReallyVirtual, May 2, 2011

By the time Obama appeared, I had read a number of articles on various US media websites, mainly CNN, Washington Post and The New York Times. The Times site was hard to reach, such was the traffic. Most of these articles had little to say, apart from claiming that various sources were anonymously confirming the death of bin Laden. Some ran profile pieces and timelines from 9/11. [Read more…]

The Twitter Election? Not Likely.

There is much over-blown talk of new paradigms at the moment.

Before the 43rd Parliament has even met, the new political paradigm has been shown to be illusory. Standard politics continues apace. An old-fashioned deal has delivered us a minority government. Interest groups and political participants have begun positioning themselves to extract maximum advantage from the new Parliament.

Far from the political process becoming more open and transparent, it is more likely that backroom intrigue will flourish. Intricate deal-making seems set to reach new heights of ingenuity. The numerical permutations and combinations in both houses guarantee that practitioners of the so-called old paradigm will be called upon to ensure that things do not fall apart.

Another paradigm that has failed to materialise is the one that was supposed to deliver a “Twitter election” and usher in a new democracy powered by “social media”. Instead, the golden age of 140-character political participation has been clubbed to death by the established media and all but ignored by the main political parties. [Read more…]

Malcolm Turnbull Twitters

Malcolm Turnbull, Leader of the Federal OppositionI’m following Malcolm Turnbull on Twitter. Is that more disturbing than knowing that he’s following me?

The Opposition Leader joined the micro-blogging network Twitter this week. As of tonight, he has 627 followers and is following 593. He’s written 20 updates, the most recent informing us that he was in Crows Nest with Joe Hockey.

Whilst some Australian politicians have blogs and Facebook pages, Turnbull is the only one I know of who is tweeting.

Crikey has a good piece today on the use of Twitter by Bigpond customers. In turn, Bigpond customer service now has its own presence on Twitter.