Today at the Malaria Summit in downtown Seattle, Melinda Gates met with a group of bloggers to talk about the battle against the deadly disease, the progress toward a potential vaccine, and the role of social media in spreading the word and rallying support.
“Well, there’s certainly been even more interest in the topics than I expected,” she said. “I tweet about a whole bunch of different things. I’ll tweet about U.S. education because we’re involved in that, or this week obviously more on malaria. And I love seeing the conversations back. In the case of U.S. education I’m hearing from a lot of teachers what they really think. That informs our work in a different way even than me doing a survey.
“In the area of malaria, it’s hard for me to know. I’m super-interested in malaria, because I travel all over the world. But will there be other people interested in it. And to see people say yes, “I care about this,” it really helps, particularly as we think about, OK, how do you sustain the momentum with country governments to keep up the funding.
“So for me just hearing the interest and knowing that people care about it, or watching what they follow — which of the Foundation’s blogs, or which of the One blogs they go out to — to know what things they read and find interesting, that helps me inform the work, too, it helps me keep that momentum up.”
Have she and Bill Gates ever thought about having conversations in public on Twitter?
“We have, particularly when we’re traveling in different parts of the world. We almost did it recently over a funny Onion piece that was out, that was kind of tongue-in-cheek, and then I decided, ah, I don’t think I’ll Twitter about that, I’ll just call him about that.
She added, “We probably will. Our offices in our home, the way they are organized, they’re literally across the staircase, but we can see one another, and sometimes we’re emailing each other back and forth, so I thought, yeah, maybe sometime we should just tweet each other.”
Unfortunately the conversation moved on before I could ask which Onion piece she emailed.
Previously on GeekWire: An ‘impatient’ Melinda Gates joins Twitter