The political pulse of the nation can now be tracked in real-time as La Trobe University has developed a website which enables the public to report on the upcoming federal election campaign using Twitter.
The site, called A Nation Tweeting to Itself, combines Twitter and Google Maps to plot 'tweets' on a map of Australia.
La Trobe University journalism researcher Dr Christopher Scanlon has developed the site as an experiment to see how citizen journalism affects the election campaign.
'Twitter is becoming increasingly significant in reporting news and influencing public debate. This is an experiment to see what can happen if people have a tweet their news,' Dr Scanlon said.
'If you're in a shopping centre and see a pollie campaigning, you can tweet a message or take a photo on your mobile phone and it will appear on the site and your location will be plotted on a map of Australia.
'It will be interesting to track how issues are presented and received in different parts of the country, if the hot topics tweeted by citizen journalists are different from the issues reported in the mainstream media, and how the political parties react to this new way for the public to engage in the political process,' says Dr Scanlon.
Dr Scanlon developed the idea for the site after seeing how Twitter was used in the disputes that followed the 2009 election in Iran. Protesters used the hashtag '#iranelection' to share information and images about the protests that followed the election.
'The Iranian elections were a turning point for Twitter, which up till then had been dismissed by many - including me - as a novelty', said Dr Scanlon.
The web address of A Nation Tweeting to Itself is http://www.upstart.net.au/ozelection. Anyone with a Twitter account can participate by including '#ozelection' and their postcode in the tweet. For example, a tweet from Melbourne CBD would therefore contain: #ozelection 3000.
A Nation Tweeting to Itself is part the latest project developed through Upstart http://www.upstart.net.au, which was launched in June 2009 as a platform for emerging journalists in Australia.
Dr Chris Scanlon
Phone: 03 9479 1041
Phone: 03 9479 5513
Source: La Trobe University http://www.latrobe.edu.au/news/articles/2010/article/citizen-journalists-to-tweet-election-campaign