Twitter Down

When the new media impulse fails to impress.

I have a large bucket of respect for Marc Ambinder, over at The Atlantic. As far as bloggers go in the prime meat market, he’s an A-1 steak. But even for a vet like Ambinder (his blog currently reads “Marc Ambinder at the Conventions,” the words framed rather joyously by red-and-blue confetti), it seems that the Twitter function—the Twitter phenomenon, the Twitter slide-into-the-future-service, the Twitter new-media garnish—falls flat. Read his take on RNC events tonight from the convention floor here.

Though the line “McCain chief strategist Steve Schmidt has no entourage,” is perhaps interesting as a note of comparison (does David Axelrod have one?), it’s hardly the kind of information that you want to be hearing during prime time convention action.

In other words, minus any downplay of Ambinder’s attempt to do all that is necessary to keep the tech-savvy, always-busy, news-everywhere/anywhere folks happy, is it really crucial news—i.e. iPhone-update-newsworthy—to say: “Giuliani is backstage chatting with reporters; blames media for stirring up Palin rumors,” or, “Chatter on the Kentucky delegation bus is all about tomorrow night’s Palin speech”?

Given the one-to-two-line nature of the Twitter feed, there’s understandably little nuance that one can relay to one’s IM/SMS/Web followers. Details are relegated to the next Twitter update. Two lines are distilled to one. Analysis is replaced by “what is going on… precisely… right now” (preferably in Noun-Verb-Direct Object format). For someone like Ambinder, whose time is arguably best spent analyzing the larger picture impact of the speeches given during these often clownish conventions, is it really recommendable to have him sending Twitter updates “from the convention floor” (ooh!) instead of just standing still and providing his more verbose insights? Ambinder Twittered during prime time (well, starting at 9:13 p.m. ET), sending out eight concise lines of observation like the ones above—and didn’t put up another post until 12:13 a.m.

Without wagging finger at Ambinder for how frequently he posted tonight, isn’t it nonetheless worth mentioning that Andrew Sullivan, unencumbered by the Twitter responsibility, put up nineteen posts in the same period of time, at least ten of them interesting?

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Jane Kim is a writer in New York.