Chris Webb came up with these two observations:
I wondered how many members of Congress actually knew what a "backchannel" is, and I thought of Ted Stevens famous "the internet is a series of tubes" speech. The stereotype is that they are not on the cutting edge of technology.
But then I followed John Culberson, a Republican Congressman from Texas and I became fascinated by his live stream of consciousness from the House floor in Washington DC as President Obama was speaking:
Aren't those great, patriotic, positive, hopeful comments from someone who you would think might be just a little inclined to disagree with a Democratic president?
But then again, he also said this:
I LIKE this guy!
I "tweeted" a family friend who works for the Washington Post to ask if she followed any members of Congress in Twitter, and within minutes she sent me this link:
Tweet Congress: http://tweetcongress.org/
On their website Tweet Congress features a "tweetstream" from all the legislators with twitter accounts! Sure, I know, some of you skeptics will wonder (and I do too) how many of these people actually do their own tweeting, and how many of them have staffers (handlers) do it for them? But isn't it fascinating?
In its purest form, these legislators are giving our government more transparency than it's ever had before! Sure, we have C-SPAN, but now we can see for ourselves how our elected representatives think, and feel, and react to whoever has the floor. The smoke-filled room has been cleared! The spin doctors have been dismissed. The good, the bad, and the ugly for all to see, like this tweet from Congressman Earl Blumenauer of Oregon:
(I'm now following him too!)
And you cynics will remind me of the old joke: "How can you tell when your congressman is lying? His lips are moving." And I'm not that naive to think their words won't be politically motivated or self-preserving.
I think the implications for our students who are studying US Government are HUGE! Can you imagine following the "backchannel" (there's that word again) conversations in class when Congress is in session? What about tweeting your elected representatives with questions? How cool would it be if they responded? Our students are so connected, and so into texting, why don't we harness this energy and this free technology and use it to teach them about a subject they may not be very interested in???