State of the Twitter (success and) fail
It was no surprise that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s State of the Nation Address – supposedly her final, unless she actually extends her term like most fear – would end up becoming a trending topic on Twitter. I am one of those responsible, with many media outfits, political pundits and common Filipinos turning to the microblogging service to list down talking points, express their thoughts, argue with other tweeters, discuss fashion styles, and count number of applauses. Nobody got it right the first time.
Perhaps the most annoying part is, two-thirds through the speech, most media outfits have disappeared. Twitter has hourly tweeting limits for almost everyone, unless you file for special consideration. Thus, we disappeared – the pundits, the media, and heavy tweeters like me. As I write this, I still can’t post anything, and it’s been forty minutes. I call this a Twitter fail.
But it’s quite an amazing thing, being on Twitter and posting whatever we can hear. Before the feisty speech, which had more jibes (and, as Alyssa put it, blind items) against her critics than her other SONAs, I’ve been seeing many folks post (and repost) updates as they see it. The Philippine Daily Inquirer had their photographers tweet their photos. The PCIJ were throwing in bits of analysis. Pundit Manuel Quezon III was throwing in his thoughts as well. And those are just the people that I followed during the past three hours – and, in some cases, retweeted what I tweeted, or at least the stuff I heard from DZMM.
But, after Arroyo could say that her critics should focus on working rather than “[saying] bad words in public”, we all started to curse. The updates disappeared. The commentary disappeared. The tweet limits have kicked in.
While it’s disappointing that we never got to stay there when it mattered – when Arroyo finished trotting out her administration’s achievements and started defending herself against her detractors and set her legacy as she prepares to, at least supposedly, step down – it’s qite breathtaking seeing a large number of more vocal people tossing in their two cents’ worth. While the SONA reached second place on Twitter’s trending topics, I was getting responses from people who feared Internet censorship in the future, or were annoyed at Arroyo’s streak of Barack Obama name-dropping, or just hated my tweets because of lack of analysis. I don’t mind. Public discourse is what I’ve wanted to see, and while I felt it wasn’t that maximized, it was the first time I really saw it.
Then again, the discussion was mostly populated by those who said they’re not watching the SONA, or those who talked about the fashion. Hopefully the more important points get discussed throughout the night, and will spread the following day, for when it happens, things will get so much better. Soon, hopefully, I’ll wonder about all that mention of OFW clemencies, strong economies and our inherent cynicism… but for now, we’re trending. Wheee.