“Wherever you live, chances are you think your government could do a better job,” writes Shel Israel in the opening sentence of chapter 13 of Twitterville: How Businesses Can Thrive in the New Global Neighborhoods.
Shel explains the background to the book’s title, published earlier in 2009, in the introduction, some 200 pages earlier:
Twitterville connotes a certain homey, small-town feel, a place where you meet people you know as you stroll down familiar streets. These are people with whom you share common friends, interests, and ethics. When you meet a stranger here, chances are you have mutual friends or interests.
While Twitterville has millions of people in it, and is growing faster than the world’s largest megalopolises, it still feels cozy to most of its residents and visitors. It still feels safe for the most part.
This is due, in my opinion, to Twitterville’s most important characteristic, something I have named global neighborhoods. . . . Twitter lets us behave online more closely to how we do it in the tangible world than anything that has ever preceded it. And we find neighborhoods that suit us. If we love to talk about politics, we can find many neighborhoods where everyone cares just about that. The same with hummingbirds, cooking, sports, or needlepoint. You can find a neighborhood where you can hang out to learn and share and chat about the topic.
You can join as many or as few as you like. These are global neighborhoods, yet they are small and personal and cozy at the same time that they make your world far bigger.
Reacting to popular complaints about government inefficiency, apathy, and corruption, Shel believes citizens should look to Twitterville for best practices in transportation, law enforcement, and disaster response.
Remember when I wrote about the world’s first Twitter press conference via the Israeli Consulate? Or, more recently, when I wrote about a government conference I attended in Washington, D.C. and selected tweets that encapsulated its momentum?
Citing the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit system for its innovative use of posting video and blog content across its @SFBart feed, to the reporting of arrest information from the Boston Police at @Boston_Police, to hundreds of municipal, state, and federal government individuals and agencies, Shel indicates through profiles and interviews that it is clear Twitter is progressively being used as a proving ground to react to citizen complaints and calm public fears.
Want to read more about Twitterville? Click over to Shel’s blog that served as the template for his book and continues to be where he writes about Twitterville characters and case studies.
Disclosure: I am mentioned in the book’s acknowledgments for my input.