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California gov hopeful Gavin Newsom really, really likes Twitter

Gavin newsom biz stone

Sure, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom may have been pandering a bit to the social-networking-crazed crowd at 140: The Twitter Conference in Santa Monica.

But in Newsom's brief webcast that was broadcast Tuesday afternoon on the main stage projector, the Democratic contender for the 2010 California gubernatorial election professed an undying love for Twitter.

"I'm here because I have great expectations in terms of what this technology is going to mean in terms of changing the world," Newsom said from his mayoral headquarters in San Francisco.

To back up his earth-transforming claim, he pointed to the role the service played in the Mumbai, India, terrorist attacks, Iranian revolts and the case of a UC Berkeley student who was released from an Egyptian jail thanks to Twitter friends.

Twitter creator Jack Dorsey has demonstrated the tool to government officials around the world, making believers out of folks twice his age on Capitol Hill and Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, whom Newsom hopes to replace next year if he wins the Democratic nomination and then the November election, has also leveraged Twitter and publicly praised the product.

Twitter Inc. is based in San Francisco, a place Newsom calls "a city not of dreamers but of doers."

"We are trying to use Twitter and this technology to improve the governing of this city," Newsom said.

Naturally, Newsom is going to support a popular company on his home turf. There's also the bonus of highlighting his embrace of social media while high-profile Republican hopeful Meg Whitman goes about the traditional advertising route, as well as some Twittering.

But how influential can one website be?

"I think this is the beginning of the end of the way things are being done in government," Newsom said. "The best is yet to come."

-- Mark Milian

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Photo: Newsom, right, with Twitter co-founder Biz Stone last summer. Credit: Kelly Pretzer via Flickr

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Twitter will benefit both candidates and incumbents. There is going to be a gold rush for government-specific Twitter apps, and the emerging field of political technology will no doubt grow as a result of this. Blue State Digital, EchoDitto, and B2G Media are but a few of the up and coming companies in this new space.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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