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U.K. Science Minister Lord Drayson recently engaged critics of the U.K. government reshuffle in a civil, if not completely satisfying, conversation about whether the Minister could effectively represent both science and defence interests in the new Cabinet system. As part of the reshuffle, Lord Drayson is both science minister and defence procurement minister.
The conversation took place over Twitter (H/T SciTechDaily). While many conversations have no doubt taken place via the all-too-brief service, American politicians have typically opted to use the service for broadcasts rather than discussion. U.S. government agencies use it as another way of communicating news and press releases. U.S. polticians appear to prefer using the service to link to statements and other press documents, and/or broadcast their immediate thoughts, often derailing the careful conditioning of their communications staff. Others are masquerading as streams from the politicians, when the tweets are posted by staffers.
Few U.S. politicians seem to engage in a back and forth like the one Lord Drayson did. It’s not clear to me whether he is typical of Cabinet Ministers or other British politicians in this. I’d like to think so, because finding sniping on Twitter is all too easy. Twitter is proving of value in following breaking events, like the current situation in Iran. Whether it succeeds in other forms of political engagement will depend as much on those tweeting as those reading them.