The anatomy of a #spill on twitter

Last night I was watching the ABC news and checking our twitter when I was some mention of an #alpspill.

I searched for #spill, tweeted something inane and waited for the ABC to report something.

It came in the 7.30 report and it amounted to guesswork by Kerry O’Brien about Julia Gillard being in Kevin Rudd’s office.

Apart from the Twitter gossip there really wasn’t any news. Crikey was silent, The ABC was relatively silent, The SMage was relatively silent. Some “star tweeters” like @bernardkeane simply said “I can’t comment”.

What there was on twitter though was a lot of chatter. The 50 tweets a second about the #spill were not really news. It was a conversation between a whole bunch of people with very little authority.

The types tweets amounted to:

  • An opinion about either Rudd or Gillard
  • A joke about Rudd and the world cup or Malcom Turnbull
  • A reference to Laurie Oakes who was appearing on Channel 9
  • A comment about somepeople being in Rudd’s office

It was beguiling, fascinating and entertaining.

And entirely useless as news.

It wasn’t news it was a meta-conversation in a virtual pub. Everybody trying to be clever, funny and witty at the same time.

Twitter has a long way to go to become a viable news source as it lacks the authority that comes with being an established media institution or blog.

However, twitter demonstrated that it could deliver opinion about the news faster the the news could be published.

What is needed is an authority. What would enable this is a live curation where authoritative tweeters and sources are selected and promoted. This could be because of content or metadata like location, status or relationships with others.

This would mean that when something big happens twitter can continue to be a platform that provides real-time and more importantly, meaningful news.

Of course this could be just sucking the fun out of watching the conversation unfold.

What do you think?