I’ve been following Seth Abramson’s twitter feed with interest and cautious skepticism for a little while. See this Washington Post story and interview with him for a good arms-length summary, and Abramson’s own reactions to the story itself. He makes his points persuasively but ultimately we’ll have to wait and see what Mueller is able to demonstrate. Certainly there’s a good bit of wishful thinking going on with his popularity. Here’s a smart guy who’s been able to map the whole thing out! Skepticism doesn’t mean he’s wrong, just that I’m trying to balance my own desire to see the whole lot of them laughed out of office with the possibility that none of it is provable, could have happened but somehow is legally murky enough to sneak through, or that congress might just get the evidence and not impeach, anyway.
What I find most interesting, though, is not his analysis but his use of Twitter as a new medium for news commentary. He cites his sources. Good. He draws conclusions based on them and his own experience. Good. He’s only as good as the reported information that’s out there, though, and and he’s not vetting this stuff himself. Fine, but a reason to be cautious about his – or anyone’s – analysis. Twitter allows him to get ideas out quickly, and allows his readers to feel like they’re getting a live feed of breaking information.
Yet Twitter is an absolutely awful place to be doing this. Reading a thread that’s 100 tweets long, a sentence or two at a time, is sort of terrible if you’re not on when it’s happening. A blog post is almost always the right format for anything longer than one single thought. (Hello!) If he ran these threads on a blog, he could be updating them as new info comes in, building an archive of news sources that mentioned each point, categorizing everything, etc. But probably no one would be reading it. He wouldn’t have built up the following he has with a weblog, despite a medium for long form writing being exceptionally more appropriate.