#topprog … yeah, that could work

twitter logoIt still bugs me that Steve Elliot’s Get FISA Right: Last Chance To Vote Against Domestic Spying was buried by pro-surveillance diggers after I foolishly twittered it to the #tcot (Top Conservatives on Twitter) channel.  So when I got Alan Rosenblatt’s email about a new #topprog hashtag, my immediate response was that we should think about how to use it for information diffusion including posts that might be worth digging.  Not that I’m competitive or anything ….

Of course as Twitter Vote Report and the Motrin Moms have shown, Twitter hashtags are potentially useful for far more than that.  From the Get FISA Right perspective, for example, it’s another great way of broadcasting our dailyish update — and the same’s true for every other grassroots campaign out there.

One especially intriguing aspect of this to me is that Twitter is a far less male-dominated environment than digg, email and the blogosphere — and indeed the early posts to #topprog include @WomenWhoTech, @nerdette, @PunditMom, @myrnathemynx and many others.  So it’s a great chance for a key piece of progressive infrastructure where feminists and womanists — and women in general — can participate on a fairer basis.

For an example (and putting my personal competitive issues aside for a second), let’s return to the digg front.  Politically, Digg is generally seen as dominated by libertarians and conservatives; from a gender perspective, Jen Nedeau’s two-part series Is Digg Sexist? series on change.org starting with is a good overview (short answer: yes).  Suppose that progressives, feminists, and womanists are able to use their Twitter advantage to equalize the situation — and maybe even dominate — on digg.  That’d be kind of cool.

Assuming #topprog actually clicks, that is.  In addition to overcoming #tcot’s early lead (with a mentor program and a ning already in place), progressives will also have to come up with conventions for how to communicate effectively: hashtags for topics and locations, ways of communicating high-priority information like action alerts, graphical views and other kinds of filters to deal with information overload.  It’s all fairly straightforward, but does require collaboration … not always something online progressives are good at.

Still.  There’s plenty of research that shows that groups with at least 30-40% women are more effective at collaboration, so a case could be made that it’s far more likely to happen on Twitter than in blog- and email-dominated environments.  And there’s plenty of experience in the progressive community from non-partisan projects like Twitter Vote Report.  On the whole I’m optimistic.

So check it out!  For now the easiest way to get a taste for it is to go to http://search.twitter.com and type in #topprog.  If you leave the browser window up, it’ll update you as new posts come in and you can hit refreash.

And if you’re already on Twitter, just add the #topprog hashtag to any posts of yours that are interesting for progressives.  Congratulations, now you too are a top progressive!


Update, 5:30 p.m.: R. Stefan Deeran’s Progressives Try to Match Conservatives on Twitter in Exception Magazine quotes Michael Leahy, the Republican strategist behind #tcot:

“We would love to have a dialogue” Mr. Leahy told the Exception. According to Mr. Leahy, Twitter facilitates a decentralized discourse for people on both the left and right.

Indeed.  Nancy Scola also covers it in Progressives have a hashtag on techPresident, linking here.