According to a recent study, though, a non-tagged link lives on Twitter for a grand total of five minutes; to combat its tweets’ own short life spans, Twitter relies on users to engage in self-archiving via hashtags. And if a conversation itself isn’t tagged—as the Stephanopoulos/McCain interview, to my great annoyance, was not—then, unless archived elsewhere, it disappears into the black hole of 140-character cyberspace. It fades, another words, into…Twoblivion.

Rendering the conversation itself, as a practical purpose—to the extent there was a practical purpose to today’s “talk” in the first place—virtually moot. (Yes, pun intended.)

Back in January, after much was made of the “first ever press conference held on Twitter!” (the Israeli Consulate’s discussion of the situation in Gaza), I applauded the consulate’s effort to engage people—young people, in particular—in politics in a new way. I’d say the same about today’s Twitterview. But I’d also reiterate what I said in January: that the ideal scenario for Web-based political dialogue would preserve the text-based nature of the discussion—scrutiny-inviting, link-encouraging, all good—while eliminating character limitations that, for these discussions, are too constrictive.

Yep, I’ll say it: I wish today’s Twitterview had been…a Web chat. That may not be terribly innovative or sexy, I know…but it’d be informative and interactive. Which—once the novelty of a Twitterview has worn away—is kind of the point.

It’s good that McCain et al are using Twitter. It shows that they’re becoming familiar with the Web, more comfortable interacting with constituents, more open to openness itself, etc., etc. But let’s have them use that familiarity in a way that best serves both message and medium. Because if the message of the McCain Twitterview is just that he’s using a new medium, then it’s really not much of a message at all.

Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.