John Rentoul: Don't knock Twitter for being random

Louise Mensch has launched a site on which people can only discuss three subjects

Share

Two of my favourite people on Twitter are setting up an internet network for people "who find Twitter frustrating". Louise Mensch, who has used Twitter to promote her political mission better than any MP with the exception of Stella Creasy, the Labour MP who campaigns against "legal loan sharking", has launched Menshn with Luke Bozier, a Labour friend of mine who defected to the Tories at the start of the year.

Menshn is a US-only website for the moment, on which people can discuss only three subjects: the Obama campaign, the Romney campaign or the presidential election generally. (More subjects will be added later.) The point of it seems to be that comments will be "on topic", because the trouble with Twitter, apparently, is that it is "too random".

Too random? That is what I love about it. I don't find Twitter frustrating in the slightest. On the contrary, it has been the greatest computer-based boon to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness since Google and internet grocery shopping. If I want to discuss Mitt Romney's wife's love of dressage, and whether this is an asset to the Obama campaign, I may do so. And if someone else on Twitter wants to change the subject and make silly jokes about Ed Miliband ("Knock, knock." "Who's there?" "Ed." "Ed who?" "Ed Miliband." "Ed Miliband who?"), then that is fine by me, too.

Twitter has changed journalism, spreading news and expert comment at least 10 times faster than the old technology. When I started as a reporter in the House of Commons, the news came from the Press Association, a subscription news service. Then you had to find an expert on the end of a land line to comment on it. Now, if you want news, it will break on Twitter first. If you want a fact, Google will find it. If you want to know what it means, someone on Twitter will know. So, put me down as a sceptic. I'll sign on, of course, when they launch the UK version of Menshn for the Olympics. Although I have just one question. What happened to the "c"? Shouldn't it be Menschn?

No – I do not find Twitter frustrating. The only thing that is frustrating about it is the company's constant efforts to make something so brilliantly simple more complicated. I feel no need for a new internet thingy that would be more "on topic". In fact, the phrase "on topic" is going straight onto my Banned List, a self-sustaining internet theme that receives several new nominations a day on Twitter.

Mind you, if you had explained what Twitter was five years ago, I would have said, "Don't be daft; 140-character messages? Leave me alone; I've got an urgent blog post to write."

 

John Rentoul is Chief Political Commentator for 'The Independent on Sunday' and was named Political Tweeter of the Year by Public Affairs News

Twitter: @JohnRentoul

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Analyst - 12 Month FTC - Entry Level

£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Analyst is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Chefs - All Levels

£16000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To succeed, you will need to ha...

Recruitment Genius: Maintenance Engineer

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join an award winni...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive & Customer Service - Call Centre Jobs!

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Day In a Page

Read Next
George Osborne appearing on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, 5 July 2015  

George Osborne says benefits should be capped at £20,000 to meet average earnings – but working families take home £31,500

Ellie Mae O'Hagan
The BBC has agreed to fund the £650m annual cost of providing free television licences for the over-75s  

Osborne’s assault on the BBC is doing Murdoch’s dirty work

James Cusick James Cusick
Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

Tribal gathering

Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously

Illnesses, car crashes and suicides

Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously
Srebrenica 20 years after the genocide: Why the survivors need closure

Bosnia's genocide, 20 years on

No-one is admitting where the bodies are buried - literally and metaphorically
How Comic-Con can make or break a movie: From Batman vs Superman to Star Wars: Episode VII

Power of the geek Gods

Each year at Comic-Con in San Diego, Hollywood bosses nervously present blockbusters to the hallowed crowd. It can make or break a movie
What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?

Perfect match

What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?
10 best trays

Get carried away with 10 best trays

Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
Wimbledon 2015: Team Murray firing on all cylinders for SW19 title assault

Team Murray firing on all cylinders for title assault

Coaches Amélie Mauresmo and Jonas Bjorkman aiming to make Scot Wimbledon champion again
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!
Ashes 2015: Angus Fraser's top 10 moments from previous series'

Angus Fraser's top 10 Ashes moments

He played in five series against Australia and covered more as a newspaper correspondent. From Waugh to Warne and Hick to Headley, here are his highlights
Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high