Progressives Harnessing the Awesome Power of Twitter

EDITOR'S NOTE: Welcome to the Battle of the Hashtags, the latest front in the cyberwar between progressives and the right wing, this one on the battlescape known as Twitter.


What's a hashtag? Ask that, and you've just revealed yourself to be a novice Tweeter -- or worse, a non-Tweeter.

Why is that a bad thing? Because Twitter is the premier organizing tool of the right, even though progressives were arguably first to access its awesome power. And it has the potential to be an even greater tool for progressives than it's been so far.

The secret to Twitter-nizing is in the hashtag -- you know, those little jumbles of letters and/or numbers preceeded by a pound sign (#) that often appear at the start or end of a Twitter post, or Tweet.  Click on one of those when it appears on a Tweet, and you'll get a listing of every Tweet with the same hashtag that has appeared anywhere on Twitter.

When Alan Rosenblatt, the digiguru of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, saw how the right was organizing its top Tweeters via a hashtag, he snapped into action. Here he unveils the newest Twitter-based organizing tool for progressives, the TweetProgress hub.

Do you Tweet? You have a new online home.

Launched yesterday (8/23/09), TweetProgress.us, already has nearly 1,200 registered progressives and counting. Created by Jim Gilliam (@jgilliam) and Tracy Viselli (@myrnatheminx) as a directory for progressives on Twitter, TweetProgress.us is the newest phase in our efforts to better organize progressives on Twitter.

After first learning about how organized convervatives were on Twitter, under the #TCOT hashtag (Top Conservatives On Twitter), I launched the #TOPPROG hashtag to help better organize tweeting progressives. Within 24 hours, #TOPPROG cracked the top 20 hashtags and remained in the top 25 for a couple months.

Shortly after launching #TOPPROG, a few other progressives on Twitter, including Viselli and Jon Pincus (@jdp23) launched #P2, a shorter hashtag for progressive conversations on Twitter. As they evolved, #P2 has become the primary hashtag for conversations among progressives, while #TOPPROG is increasingly being used to bridge conversations with #TCOT and the libertarians' #TLOT.

It quickly became apparent that progressives, while not aggregating en masse under a single hashtag like conservatives, were very active on Twitter. #P2 and #TOPPROG, along with #ProgressiveTuesday, #EcoMonday, and #green, are among several hashtags being used to aggregate progressive-themed conversations.

With the arrival of TweetProgress.us, we now have a growing directory of progressives.

Jim Gilliam, who built TweetProgress.us after a brainstorming conversation with Viselli, also built Act.ly, an evolving platform for using Twitter to take grassroots action (initially, petitions). With these tools, along with TweetLeft.com, which feeds a live stream of #P2 Twitter posts, progressives are not only organized on Twitter, but well equipped.

If you know of more Twitter tools for progressives, please post them in the comments section below.


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