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Twitter is indefensible

Matt Yglesias tries to defend using Twitter for political commentary. Is it just me, or is “blame the user, not the medium” pretty weak? No medium can make a bad commentator good, but it can certainly be ill-suited to a task. No one is tweeting investigative journalism.

Claire McCaskill claims she uses it to “drive thought and discussion.” I dare you to reconcile that with what’s there right now. There are comments about her schedule, personal comments, and approximately four comments that you could claim drive discussion. One of them is a one word comment on Specter (“Wow”) and another is a generic statement of support for Kathleen Sebelius. So I see two defensible comments. Out of twenty.

McCaskill also claim it’s a way of staying “connected.” That’s dubious and has a significant downside: her followers are more connected to her. Personally connected, given the contents of her feed. That makes them less objective when it comes to evaluating her job performance, which means she can get away with more. Maybe it’s a small effect, but being connected isn’t necessarily a plus for rational evaluation.

I don’t really care if members of Congress want to use Twitter. I have a (seldom used) Twitter account. It’s amusing. But let’s not pretend it’s a useful source of information from politicians or political commentators.

Categories: Congress, Culture, Tech
  1. Agi
    April 29, 2009 at 7:45 am

    If only people could limit their political commentary to 140 characters, the world would be a much better place.

  2. May 2, 2009 at 8:49 am

    Twitter might be useful to people with a literary bent – to cram as much meaning into 140 characters as possible – poetry. It could be seen as a new way of doing what the limerick or haiku do. But in the hands of politicians, it’s merely a source of manipulation.

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