Close, but no cigar, @dtapscott.
One of the many interesting things about Twitter is its democratizing power. Everyone with an account has an identical ability to get in touch with any other user of the service. The amount of high-profile types using Twitter makes this flat communication structure an especially liberating thing. Wil Wheaton can talk to Levar Burton, but so can we, if we want to (though Mr. La Forge/Reading Rainbow might be more inclined to tweet back to his Enterprise crewmate than to Torontoist). But there’s one particular thing that Twitter doesn’t do very well, and this minor weakness has resulted, somewhat bizarrely, in the tangential involvement, in Toronto municipal politics, of a conservative family man from Utah.
Let us tell you a few things about David Miller.
He’s wary of socialized healthcare. He’s in favour of weakening the federal government, and he also supports strict caps on income tax for individuals and corporations. Yeah, turns out David Miller’s a really conservative guy. How’d he ever get elected mayor of a city with such a strong lefty contingent? Oh, right. He didn’t.
Actually, he doesn’t even live in Canada.
David Miller of Bountiful, Utah, a conservative blogger (his site is actually a pretty good read), has politics very different from those of our own soon-to-depart Mayor Miller. But the two men do have one thing in common, aside from a name: they’re both active on Twitter, where Mayor Miller uses the handle @mayormiller, and David-from-Utah goes by @davidmiller.
Since Twitter’s public messaging system relies on users knowing and correctly typing the usernames of other Twitterers, it’s somewhat error-prone in cases like these, where usernames are similar. As a result, @davidmiller has been getting a lot of messages intended for the mayor of Toronto. It’s to the point where Utah Miller has gotten into the habit of cordially redirecting the mistakenly addressed missives.
Predictably, he had his hands full on Friday, after Mayor Miller’s announcement.
Even though he has nothing to do with Toronto, the other David Miller has been serendipitously granted a tiny window into the political life of an embattled municipal administration. It’s like when someone’s phone number is one digit off from the number of a pizza delivery place and they get inundated with anonymous requests for peppers and extra cheese. Except in this case the crossed wire happens to be a more-or-less direct line to the chief officer of the biggest city in Canada. All right! Go Twitter.
David Miller of Utah graciously agreed to chat with Torontoist about this international incident. Our interview, in which we learn the secret pain of David Millers everywhere in a connected age, is below:
Torontoist: How long have you been using Twitter under your own name?
David Miller: Oh boy…the account’s been in existence for a couple of years. I’m a software engineer, computer programmer, internet junkie. I get on to these kind of things. And I got onto Twitter fairly early in Twitter’s existence.
So at what point, in using Twitter, did you discover that you had the same name as the mayor of Toronto?
Well, actually I knew that I shared a name with the mayor of Toronto before Twitter ever existed. Just, you know, Google your name and: “Oh, look. The mayor of Toronto.” There’s a lot of David Millers out there.
At what point did you start receiving messages for the mayor?
I think the garbage strike, whenever that was, was when I clearly knew that I was getting messages for the mayor.
I remember seeing the news about it and going, man. At that point I’m really happy I’m not the mayor of Toronto.
I can’t tell you how many I get like that, really. It’s just kind of part of being David Miller. You just laugh and go: “Yup, got somebody else’s message.”
You’re a conservative blogger, so is it weird for you to be connected in this way with someone who is involved in such a different kind of political culture?
It is ironic. It is interesting that way. If I were running for office I could see that kind of thing coming back to haunt me. Like: “You made this statement. We’ve got the news story to prove it.” Sorry, wrong guy, guys.
I do find it ironic. It is humourous. But that’s the end of it for me.