In the Loop

In the Loop: June 20, 2008 Archive

Twitter, transparency and the House of Congress

Posted at 1:39 PM on June 20, 2008 by Sanden Totten (2 Comments)

What's the "deepest and darkest hole" in America? According to Republican Congressman John Culberson of Texas, it's the House floor.

The political site techPresident has a post about Congressman Culberson and his new hobby: shedding light down that hole using Twitter. He's been using Twitter to send out quick updates on what he's doing, hearing and voting on that day in Congress. Culberson writes:

"I hope to redefine a Congressman's job description for the 21st Century. I want to be a 'real time representative' . . . I love technology and believe passionately in the disinfecting power of sunshine, as did my hero Thomas Jefferson who often said we should try all abuses at the bar of public opinion."

Culberson has also done some video blogging using Qik. And now a Democratic representative from Ohio is getting in on the act.

Apparently, using wireless phones or personal computers is banned in Congress, but Twitter gets under the radar since Blackberries and texting are allowed. So far, both Congressmen have done a pretty good job using the technology to explain what they are doing and why.

But there's a problem with transparency: it's time consuming. At the bottom of the techPresident post, a commenter digs into Rep. Culberson's career, saying some pretty nasty things about him. Culberson himself comes on the site to defend his reputation and responds to the commentator's concerns. But just glancing at the back and forth between the two of them, you'll get an idea of the amount of work it must have taken Culberson to respond and discuss all these points with this guy.

So maybe one reason Congress is such a deep dark hole is that letting the public in on the process is a lot of work. Plus, I'm sure that if every member of the House let the people in on why they did what they did, there would be a lot of explaining to do.

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