I have been in Rome this last couple of weeks, trying to make headway with my book in the peace of the American Academy. And I've done just two gigs: a lecture on Laughter at the American University next door, and a discussion on women, books, blogs and social media at the Academy (you can see a bit about it here if you go down to 21 October). My pipedream has been never to leave the Janiculan or to be more than 500 metres from the library for a fortnight -- which I have nearly, but not quite, managed.
Anyway, the discussion was fun, and we fell at one point to talk about the deocratising potential of online communication. As some of you will know, I have serious doubts about how much a force for democracy media like Twitter are. It is often hyped as the place where the ordinary person can talk to those in power, but that only works if those in power are listening. Democracy is about being heard, not just about being allowed to sound off -- and it would take a very naive soul to imagine that David Cameron read anything tweeted to him. Indeed it would take a very naive soul to imagine that he actually wrote most of them. (No criticism intended there: I would hope he had better things to do.)
Anyway, I decided afterwards that it might be a good idea to take a careful look at a few "leaders'" tweets and twitter accounts. All my cynicism, I should say, has been amply confirmed.