When the internet first really started to take off ten or fifteen years ago, it was seen as a personal publishing platform. Suddenly, you didn’t need to have support from a TV network or a book publisher in order to get your views in front of a huge potential audience. All you needed was some cheap web space and a basic knowledge of HTML.
Of course, you still had to find your audience. But that was a separate problem. At least you had a platform.
One of the important principles behind “Web 2.0” was that it changed the web from a platform for personal publishing to a platform for participation. It was no longer enough to have a static web page where you published your views. You now needed to have a blog where you were happy for readers to publish comments on whatever you wrote. The web changed from being about publication to being about conversations.
This was a change that was completely lost on some people. In particular, there is a certain type of politician who like nothing less than being questioned on their views. In many cases this is because they know that their arguments don’t stand up to the slightest amount of scrutiny and they’d rather not be forced to admit that.
Step forward Nadine Dorries, Tory MP for Mid Narnia. For some time now, Mad Nad has portrayed herself as some kind of Conservative Cyber-Queen as she has a blog, More recently (despite initially disparaging the service) she has become active on Twitter.
But it’s all terribly “Web 1.0”. She isn’t really interested in interaction. Her blog usually has comments turned off because whenever she turns them on people start to use them to tell her how stupid she is being. And that’s something that Nadine can’t bear to hear.
She has the same approach to Twitter. Whenever she makes one of her eagerly-awaited tweets you’ll find dozens of people replying to her pointing out the flaws in her logic. She rarely engages with any of her critics, preferring to ignore or, when individuals get too persistent, block them from reading her stream. Of course, blocking people on Twitter doesn’t really achieve anything. Your tweets are still all available for everyone on your public Twitter page. The blocked people just won’t see your wisdom in the stream of people that they follow.
I’ve heard about Mad Nad blocking people for weeks, But despite chipping away at her several times I hadn’t joined that crowd myself until a couple of days ago. I think it was all part of the response to the drugs madness that she posted over the weekend. Mark Reckons has a good summary of what happened. She posted some over-simplistic nonsense about drugs and crime and many people (including me) tried to enlighten her. Soon after that incident I discovered that I was no longer seeing her tweets. After some further investigation this evening it really looks like she has blocked me.
There was another example yesterday. Last night, Kerry McCarthy retweeted a link to a rather good blog post which deconstructed one of Mad Nad’s homilies on the downfall of family life. Dorries failed to realise it was a retweet. First she accused McCarthy of mounting a personal attack on her and then a short while later (when presumably she couldn’t find the blog post on McCarthy’s web site – where it had never been) she accused her of “hastily” removing it. This idiocy lead, of course, to more people attempting to point out where she was going wrong. All of which was ignored by Dorries.
It’s a shame when people don’t use the tools that they have been given. Dorries could get a great deal out of the internet if only she used it to interact with people. Instead she just sees it as another conduit for her ill-thought-out bullshit. And when people try to engage with her, she just does the cyber-equivalent of putting her hands over her ears and chanting “I can’t hear you. La la la la!”
People of Mid Beds. You deserve better than this from you MP. Please don’t re-elect her.