August 5th, 2008
Update: the straight dope from the instigator of the Lefty “Twitterbomb” against #DontGo, and additional coverage from tPrez.
Man, this #dontgo thing certainly does seem to have the Rs fired up, at least the Rs who are on Twitter. If you’re not quite sure what’s happening, some Republican congressmembers are staying on in the House even though it’s out of session and the TV cameras are off, relying on the ‘net to get the word out. Their goal? Protest the lack of a vote on offshore drilling for oil and gas. The micro-blogging tool/social network Twitter was the most prominent tool used at first, along with live-streaming video, though some of the activists involved have just created a site where you can learn more about what’s up (quick work, guys).
The original Twitter posts were gathered using the topic tag “#dontgo,” which has come to be shorthand for the entire action among the ‘net set. You can follow the more recent messages at dontgo.us, which will give you a sense of Twitter if you’ve never seen it before (all messages have to be 140 characters or shorter — it’s a medium for the short-of-attention-span). An interesting counter-development: since a Twitter stream will collect all posts tagged with a given topic, some lefties have begun polluting (“pooping”) the stream by posting #dontgo messages countering the Republicans or simply being rude. MoveOn will also be staging a counter-event later in the week.
Some of the folks involved seem to believe that they’ve stumbled upon a war-winning strategy (a headline from the DontGoMovement.com site: “#Dontgo Threatens The Liberal Power Elite!”), but I have to respectfully disagree with my friends on the Right that this is A Big Deal in the Long Run. But, what the heck do I know? — maybe it’s a turning point in right-wing online activism. Regardless, it’s yet another fascinating example of the interweb’s ability to cut out the communications middleman, in this case Speaker Pelosi, whose office controls the cameras in the House.
I have a suspicious feeling that the offshore-drilling issue isn’t exactly going to overwhelm the electorate, despite widespread (but shallow) support, but the Republicans involved in #dontgo seem to have taken to it like a dying man in the desert to water. Drink away, friends — the sun will still be waiting (hey, maybe we could generate some energy from that thing!).