Twitter’s Bridge to. . .Somewhere

Like Twitter itself, the site’s new Election2008. . .thing lives in that maddening zone between irresistible and pointless.

I guess you’d call Twitter’s Elections2008 a service–it aggregates all the Tweets on a particular topic. They spill down the screen in something like real time, one after another.

Twitter Election2008

Twitter Election2008

You can choose to witness Tweets for All Candidates, or any of the Big 4 individually. The latest “official” Tweets “by” Obama and McCain appear above the fold, along with other tags you can follow. [Ron Paul, Ralph Nader and Bob Barr silenced again–this time by the fatcats at Twitter, who are clearly in the pocket of corrupt conventional politics! Wonder where Twitter’s PAC contributions are going?????]

The updates slide down the screen so quickly it’s anxiety provoking. To read one, you have to pass your mouse over an update to pause the stream. Read it, unpause and you’re back to playing Election Tetris, trying to click fast before an update disappears at the bottom.

The Tweets are, as you expect, all over the map. Brief love ‘n’ hate notes, jabs, jibes, jive and jingoism, plus people trying to viralize their own blog posts and videos.

If journalism is the first rough draft of history, Twitter’s Election08 is the synaptic spatter that proceeds coherent political thought.

I suspect something will come of this. Tweet aggregation has become a low art practiced widely around the web, and Twitter itself is trying to make sure it has a place in the studio.

The underlying functionality of Twitter is so compelling that some smart people are likely, eventually, to figure out how to use this vertical streaming of the content for good rather than harm.

But as with the election itself, let’s not raise your expectations too much.  To quote a telling Tweet that just slid by: “USA Patriot: RaquelTWG you are pretty… McCain/Palin’08”

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