Yep – with all the focus on what’s happening to the south in what Allan Fotheringham once called ‘the excited States of America’, it is easy to overlook the fact we are having an election up here also ! And we actually have more than two parties to choose from, so it makes for all sorts of entertainment as they each try their best to buy the electorate with our own hard earned cash – in the past, that would not have been a problem as the Canadian dollar wasn’t really worth much anyway, but over the past year it has been flirting with credibility as it was actually above par with the American dollar for a brief, but giddy period before settling down slightly.
Keeping up with what the public was actually thinking during election time in the past has been the role of polls, but I’m sure at least a few Canadian folks will recall what Diefenbaker (the former Prime Minister, not the dog on the show ‘Due South’) had to say about political polls. Thankfully, this is where technology can actually help ! Most folks by now may have heard of Twitter – its a service designed for short, snappy comments/statements as could be easily sent via text messaging on a mobile phone. These entries – called Tweets – are then relayed within your community of friends and family, or whomever. It has lots of uses, and possibly has business uses also – think of situations where you want to update a large number of people for a company event perhaps. In the past your choices were snail mail, email, fax, phone calls, voice based distribution lists, web site, etc.. Now you have the option of sending a Tweet to your Twitter community which they can access on their phone, email or whatever.
If you are running for office, you can use this tool as a means to get your message out – see this example from Obama as well as this one for McCain. In Canada you have our Prime Minister (or at least one of his lackeys) tweeting away merrily here and his main competition from the Liberals and NDP are also active. For those subscribers who have made their tweets public, you have the possibility of scanning this collection of Twitter comment and then doing something with it. Twitter has opened up its interface and provided an API so you can do things like integrate Tweet searches into your blog, of which this is an example as is the one (full disclosure here) that my son Sean and his friends Gavin and Zoe have done at the site Canadian Election News. While the search tool isn’t as selective as would be ideal (one of the leaders names is Dion, and no, he is not a singer although he does do a good impression of cardboard), watching the messages scroll down the page in real time has an almost hypnotic quality. You can stop the scrolling by hovering over a specific message that interests you, as well as sort by party. Its hours of entertainment, or possibly I just need to get a better hobby, but whatever the case I do like the idea and its possible uses.
Thankfully the election will be over soon, but some of the applications that have been developed and the use cases put together using tools like Twitter will live on – Twitter – check it out – its got possibilities !