Thursday, 17 February 2011
The meme bomb
You know you are in political trouble when a common term like "forest" becomes a symbol of resistance to your government. This is precisely what happened to the Conservative government of the UK today. On announcement that the government would end consultation prematurely on plans that could have seen the sale of some public forest land the hash tag #forest on Twitter exploded in celebrations as vocal and numerous as those that greeted the fall of #Mubarak. To even search the term forest was to find a flood of gloating at the governnet's failure that was flooding all over Twitter.
As public relations failures go this one ranks up their with Mubarak's "I'm not leaving speech" on Twitter.
One thing we are interested in looking at is finding ways to differentiate a political humiliation from a collapse. Twitter is exploding with political protests at the sales of the forests and joy at the governments retreat at this. It also gloated at Mubarak's fall. But how can you, simply by looking at the quantity of posts, tell one from the other? How can you tell a bad PR day for a business or company from something that may result in indictment and bankruptcy?
But for the next few days, the UK government of David Cameron and his strange alliance of Conservatives and Liberals will have to face the term "Forest" becoming a Meme for their own incompetence and failure.