Today's Cornish Guardian has a light-hearted article about a number of Cornwall Councillors from all parties (myself included) who use Twitter. (The printed version is a bit less pejorative than the online version).
For anyone who doesn't do Twitter, don't worry, it's hardly the end of the world if you're not using it. But I feel it is a useful way of communicating everything happening around you. This can descend to the incredibly banal - what you're eating for breakfast and so on. But it can also be much more interesting and useful. During the recent Iranian democracy protests much of the reporting that made it onto western news came from Twitter accounts.
In the case of the allowances debate, the combined tweeting gave a good flavour of the entire debate, setting out what each party and major speaker was saying. It was a debate that had interested a large number of the commentators across the county and this sort of instant reportage could be said to help them follow the debate and the arguments.
I try to use it to keep followers up to date about my council work, rugby and other things I think might be of interest. It's not council funded (it's free) and so I feel no compulsion to keep things too serious.
As I've blogged before, Twitter has helped me during a meeting to get an answer on a serious question that a colleague had but could not be present to ask himself. But the article makes it appear as though all the conversations are utterly infantile. I can't pretend that every tweet I've ever made was completely serious, but I try to keep things a bit more factual and I make sure I'm not distracted from following the debate properly. I note that the Guardian has chosen not to re-print any of my tweets from a council meeting. I suspect because they tended to be more serious than some.
One impact of the article has been that I have picked up a number of new Twitter followers, including the local Conservative Agent. If you would like to join them the follow @alexfolkes.
To read the view of two other councillors who twitter, read Andrew Wallis (Ind) and Steve Double (Con).
UPDATE: I've just talked to the Western Morning News who are following up the Guardian story.