Apr 16, 2010


A young lad named Jamie has been bagging me out all week for what he describes as my "addiction" to Twitter.

Now, this is a bit rich coming from a bloke who's currently getting his sock-clad tackle out in front of people on a regular basis. Sure, he's a cast member of The Tasmanian Babes Fiasco, and I kind of made him do that, but let's not dwell on "facts", all right?

Anyway, Jamie's a very talented - intellectually! intellectually! - young journalism student, and has been coming in to Parliament House during sittings to do intern work with me. This week, he's been on hand to watch as I achieved a monumental change in public policy, and the way politicians interact with voters.

I got Anna Bligh to use a hashtag.

"You just spend all day on Twitter," Jamie said, rolling his eyes at me. I praised him for already achieving the high level of cynicism needed by the modern working journo, but maintained Twitter has a place in our brave new digital world.

"What's your excuse for Facebook, then?"

"Just go get me a milkshake."

But Jamie had to rethink his petty - if accurate - jibes at 1:44pm on Wednesday 14 April. For it was then, while refreshing my Twitter page, that I saw the following message pop up:

For years, Premier Anna Bligh has been resolutely against daylight saving and the concept of splitting Queensland into two time zones - yet here she was, using Twitter to ask people whether it was time to have another say. It was a new angle on an old story, and I confess to getting excited. Very excited.

You see, the rage inspired on both sides of the daylight saving debate is the kind of thing I imagine permeated the 18th and 19th century British parliaments, with Whigs taking on Tories over crucial issues of the day, be it taxation, slavery, empire, worker's rights, Home Rule or universal suffrage.

Of course back then there were no celebrity reality dramas or music quiz shows to distract the populace from political issues. Westminster was their Big Brother house; politics was their soap opera. People understood the issues, and got angry about them.

Nowadays politics is a 24-hour cycle, driven by spin and with the vast majority of the populace sporting a world-weary, even contemptuous attitude to those who walk the corridors of power. Not to mention that there are so many prettier distractions to enjoy, and politics and policy are often difficult to understand, or at the very least, to get excited about.

But daylight saving is simple - do we move our clocks or not?

There's no heavy reports to wade through, no inconvenient detail. Should our daylight hours be rearranged - that is the question. You can immediately impose that on your life: Are you a farmer with easily confused cows? An inner-city hipster with a fondness for twilight picnics? Chances are you've already made up your mind.

It's so SIMPLE. And even if it's been done a million times before, people can fire up about SIMPLE.

And they did.

Answers to @TheQldPremier's tweet started pouring in straight away. Wondering how they were planning to keep track of all the responses, I rang one of the Premier's media advisers to suggest a hashtag. She wasn't aware of the way hashtags are used on Twitter as a way of easily collating tweets on a trending topic. I suggested "#daylight". Minutes later:

Now I've never said I was a great journalist. But gosh darn it, I can work fast on a trend. And for the record, I was working on numerous other stories that whole afternoon. It's just #daylight was the most fun from a talkback radio perspective - immediate and incendiary.

I like to think Jamie learned a valuable lesson in "new media" that I'm sure his lecturers will love. I look forward to his reflections on the subject, which he can type up as soon as he gets his kit back on.


  1. Complaining about a journo using twitter is like complaining that an artist is 'addicted' to a particular type of brush.

    These are just tools.

  2. You're right Beeston, people who love Twitter are tools aren't they.

    Oh shit. I totally misread your post. #JOKE.

    See what I did there, I used a HASHTAG to ensure what I wrote wasn't misconstrued. Take note, @nicksowden

  3. Yes.. journos are tools..

    *Ba-Dum-Tish* Thanks folks! You've been great! I'm here all week! Try the veal and don't forget to tip your waitress!

  4. Dammit.. pipped to a bad joke by a naked Journo.

    The Shame! THE SHAME!

  5. HAH. Get back behind the bar.

  6. I was actually going to write about young Master Sowden as well, but that post really was long enough.

    We can get to Class 101 in Racist Tweeting tomorrow.

  7. But.... but...
    the curtains???
    what about the curtains???
    Don't you worry about that !!!
    You're slowing down Wah
    The Ancient Man

  8. 1st, I love the new page... but I also loved the old one = win/win.

    2nd, Well done you for getting the Jamies of the country engaged. Let's face it, if this referendum goes ahead, the deciders will be those who DIDN'T vote 20 years ago, and getting it out there through social media is going to get them aware and thinking.

  9. Slightly off topic: Like the new redesign.

  10. Yeah, Twitter has had some moments already and I guess those of us who regular it get to see what it's capable of...

    *cough* #sandilandsisdouche *cough*

    Well done for being a step ahead.

  11. Love love love the new design. Your photo is so beautiful! You rock.

  12. Nice work. Well written.

  13. Indeed, love the old design and loving the new one.

    I think one of the aspects of new media is how quickly knowledge of something as simple a using a hashtag can be disseminated.

    Looking forward to further developments in E-democracy in QLD.

  14. Like the new design but the movement of the images to the left are distracting when reading the comments luv i