More Twitter Skepticism

From techie and genuine Twitter-fan Tom Lee.

It’s been horrifying to watch Twitter evolve into a medium used for important (if not serious) communication. First and foremost, I am appalled by our legislators’ embrace of a time-suck communication medium that is necessarily superficial, and (more perniciously) one that is so convincingly fake-democratic while actually just facilitating communication with rich, Apple-computer-owning white people like myself.

Its adoption by the mainstream media has been similarly off-putting. As a cheap and fun SMS interface for media outlets I have no beef with it; as a means of personal marketing for journalists, the pretense and lack of honesty is dismaying (Ezra’s [Klein’s] diagnosis of their motivations as being grounded in a desire to avoid being left behind by the next blog-like internet trend is dead-on, I think — we should thank god we were spared from a hypothetical David Gregory Tumblr). I’d say the median journotweet is something like “getting ready to sit down for an i/v w spalin. the lady is a tough cookie!" when in fact it should be closer to "complaining abt blogs in line to pick up kids sidwell frnds. no poor people around!”

I’m really baffled by the advent of Congress and mainstream news journo-Tweeting. What’s the utility? As Tom points out, the posts are almost universally vapid and uninforming. They rarely even display much in the way of wit or humor. In theory, or in a Jay-Rosen-designed utopia, perhaps they serve as some sort of real-time feedback and communications system that encourages concise expression. But we exist neither in theory nor in a Jay-Rosen-design utopia, and I don’t think we’re likely to get there soon (thank goodness, really). So instead we get this. And this. And this. And this. And this. At least Jim DeMint is using his feed as a way to put out information relevant to his supporters. None of those feeds even rise to the level of mildly clever self-promotion, which can at least be entertaining. I’ll reiterate: I think Twitter is pretty neat. I’ve got Tweetdeck open right now; when I’m not working, I almost always do. I get annotated, curated links from a few smart folks who cover issues I’m interested in and (mostly) lots of interesting and dry and funny insights and from friends. But I have no idea what anyone would actually get from any of the journo/Congress feeds I linked above.