This is about Firstpost's article "Time to unfollow the PMO on Twitter" ( http://bit.ly/zY1jot ). When the article was posted online, I tweeted this:
The link got sent around and reached the person in Firstpost who posted it (@AnantRangaswami). After a few back-and-forth tweets, he asked me and @nikhilnarayanan to send him a more detailed clarification of why we felt FirstPost was being unfair. So here goes.
FirstPost is a new-age media house that caters more to the Twitter-audience than to the newspaper-reading audience. It is a fun-loving yet analytical, light-hearted yet informative and of course, instant and trendy media house. So, it plays along with Twitter - adding hashtags to its tweets (sometimes excessively), add puns to its tweets (sometimes funny) and retweets other people's jokes. I cannot think of any other media twitter handle that does any of these.
When one of their writers spends a lot of time on Twitter and soaks in all that happens there, it is easy to get carried away into analyzing an issue the way their Timeline is analyzing it. For serious issues, this sometimes works fine - people genuinely have different and thought-provoking opinions and hence Twitter helps get a good two-sided perspective on things. Filter out the jokes and irrational anger from the timeline and you can see some good thoughts. Take both sides of the opinion from these, put them together and you have a well-balanced article that everyone will read.
But for non-serious issues (like - why the PMO twitter handle is a failure), the analysis on Twitter is substituted by jokes. The jokes come easy based on the usual themes of making fun of the PM - PM doesn't speak, PM is weak and of course Sonia Gandhi controls the PM. When the timeline is filled with these tweets (many of them quite funny) and a writer decides to churn out an article, the output sometimes sounds like a serious version of these joke tweets.
And this is what I think is wrong with the "Time to unfollow the PMO on Twitter" article.
It draws on two things from the Twitter account - the fact that the account does not follow anyone yet and that it did not tweet about issues like inflation, corruption, reforms, Rushdie or Norway. And makes the following conclusion in the summary -
The PMO account will be broadcasting, not interacting. It will tell all of us what the PMO wants us to know. It will not be engaging and cerebral, it will be banal and boring, as seen by the first few tweets. It will not be a meeting place for, say, opinion-leaders and thinkers of the country and the prime minister’s office.
The sample size for this conclusion is one day of tweeting. Think about it - just one day. What did most of us do on the first day on Twitter? Even if we do remember it, is it an indicator of what or how we tweet today?
For all you know, the conclusion may turn out to be true - but it still does not justify this article so early. Now, suppose the handle did tweet about those serious issues on Day 1 - it would not have justified a victory article either. Because, well, neither of these conclusions can be made with just a day of tweeting.
The article would have been more apt if it had mentioned about the PMO handle, that it is an attempt to be forward-looking, about its slow start, about the confusion of PM-vs-PMO author, about what it expects from the handle in future and some comparisons to other such handles in other departments/countries. What it does not need is a obituary on day one.
Let's wait and watch before declaring victory or sending it a Rest-In-Peace card.