Ricky Gervais doesn’t do Twitter as he so glibly told Big Think this week. John McCain’s tweets can’t seem to get beyond his ranting crusade against earmarks — and science. But finally, one journalist is rebutting people who say Twitter is the last refuge for the bored and inane by finding a legitimately interesting and useful purpose for the microblogging service.
Wichita Eagle reporter Ron Sylvester has been using Twitter to go where cameras cannot—inside the courtroom. He’s microblogged several cases but just recently tried it in federal court during a trial of members of the Crips indicted on racketeering charges. While 140 words probably wouldn’t suffice for the closing argument, Sylvester was able to live blog the minutiae — and only the minutiae — of a trial that would otherwise have been headlined first in the mainstream media.
Courts have always been squirelly about allowing technology into their hallowed reaches, but J. Thomas Marten, the district judge in the Crips case, says tweets are no big deal. He always tells jurors not to read media reports about cases they are weighing, and that goes for Twitter too. “You either trust your jurors to live with the admonishment, or you don’t,” he told the AP.
Sylvester seems to have nailed one of Twitter’s potentially great uses—taking us behind closed doors in real time and providing reporting to public at large. That at least makes up for some of the people tweeting non-stop about walking their dog.