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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Can Twitter + Muni = Something Not Vile?

Posted By on Tue, Feb 9, 2010 at 6:30 AM

click to enlarge Is the relationship between Twitter and Muni symbiotic? - N-JUDAH CHRONICLES/LAUREN OLIVER -- USED WITH PERMISSION
  • N-Judah Chronicles/Lauren Oliver -- Used with Permission
  • Is the relationship between Twitter and Muni symbiotic?
Pencils up! Which of the following actually has a shot at improving Muni's lot?

A. Prayer
B. Paramilitary squads
C. Workers control the means of production
D. Twitter

According to an increasing buzz, it's "D." And while we thought this was simply another case of New Technology Emerges In Futile Battle Over Muni Accountability, who knows? It seems Twitter may yet play a part in a better Muni.

Our favorite transport-obsessed blogger, Greg Dewar, sees an actual role for Twitter beyond annoying the hell out of Gavin "Transit First" Newsom. Even though Muni hasn't yet begun sending out Twitter alerts -- something like if ur standing on Fillmore 'n' Haight, sorry 'bout the mess! would be a good start -- many individual users have done just that. (Via Twitter, Muni did offer a free fastpass to whomever could guess the amount of money pillaged from the transit system by the state -- good fun and intelligent marketing, too).

Does heading to an Municipal Transportation Agency board meeting for several hours in the middle of a work day sound feasible? Not for those of you with jobs. Maybe not even for the unemployed. But transit-centric bloggers -- streetsblog and transbay to name two -- have taken to live-tweeting key meetings.

"A lot of people tell me they enjoy that," said Dewar. "They can't watch, but they do have a Twitter client on their desktop."

Also, if nothing else, Twitter serves as a hyperspeed version of the old phone ladder, and can be used to get younger, hipper people into MTA town hall meetings to take in elders' complaints about buses not coming, having to hitchhike off Treasure Island, getting mugged, choosing between money for prescription medicine and the bus, etc. Depending upon your view of how effective public input is in altering Muni's staus quo, Twitter may or may not live up to the billing of New Technology Emerges In Futile Battle Over Muni Accountability.

"Sometimes we call this crowd-sourcing the mundane. Sometimes it can be silly. But not when you alert people to what's going on, or how to get around the problem of the day, or how to get involved and help make Muni better," Dewar says. "I'm not the only guy on Twitter talking about Muni. Thousands of people do. That's what makes it fun. That's what makes it useful."

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" is a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly, which he has written for since 2007. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers... more


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