A Mumbai-based tech media reporter and spare time satirist started (Oct 6) Twitter account ‘Shashi Tharoor Fake’. Why ? Because, she says, satire enriched her soul. Besides, doing it at Shashi Tharoor’s expense gave her media mileage. But Mr Tharoor wasn’t amused with her initiative for soul-enrichment . He had her Twittered out within weeks. Someone else who mimic tweeted Nandan Nelekani had the account – http://www.twitter.com/nandannilekani suspended.
‘Techgirl’ who authored the short-lived ‘Tharoor Twitter’ (not to be confused for the real one maintained by the ‘cattle-class’ minister himself) was evidently on to something that had been tried out some five years back in the UK through blogs. Twitter wasn’t around then. Tim Ireland, a web marketing guy, sought to get elected representatives in Britain to interact online with their constituents.
He wanted to initiate MPs into blogging. Not many bought his line – “It’s not easy getting people off their arse”. To tackle MPs who didn’t have their own blog or seem to care for one Tim evolved the concept of running ‘proxy’ blogs. He persuaded some proactive constituents to blog on behalf of their MPs.
Before he set up his own blog, Keith Vaz, a Goa-born MP from Leicester, a constituent ran an unofficial blog in the name of the MP. The blogger put it on record, “I’m not Keth Vaz, nor am I a member of his staff; not in anyway associated with him”. Aim of the Keith Vaz proxy blog was to let his constituents know what their MP was is up to. “This is a job he (MP) should be doing himself”, said the blogger, adding that he would be happy to close shop, if Mr Vaz chose to run a blog on his own.
Tim’s proxy blog sought to encourage politicians to take to the web; help them see the value of maintaining a blog, as a resource material, as a portal to inform constituents about their work on an ongoing basis. With the frequency of posts the blogger politician has potential to reach a wider audience.
A constituent of Labour MP Jim Cousins ran a proxy blog that declared: “This blog is not run by Jim Cousins; nor does he endorse it. Maybe Cousins doesn’t even know of it; if he ever finds out, he can have it”. Far from trying to shut out the blog, the MP’s aides got in touch and offered resource materials for the proxy blog in the form of FAQs on Jim’s views and copies of other materials on various matters. This led to a meeting between Cousins and the blogger. While agreeing the blog would be a very useful means to communicate with his constituents Jim wasn’t prepared to take the blog over yet.
The Guardian wrote a number of bloggers took to Tim Ireland’s proxy blog model . Besides Jim Cousins, there were blogs dedicated to six other British MPs, most of them , not friendly. The moral is: if you don’t launch your own blog, someone might do it for you.