Here’s a development I most certainly would not have predicted: the Lord Chief Justice of England (the very aptly named Lord Judge) has ruled that the use in court of Twitter on mobile devices is acceptable ‘as long as the judge believed it would not interfere with the administration of justice’. The matter had come up earlier in the proceedings involving WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, where the judge had taken a similar approach.
Reporting of court hearings will of course be changed dramatically as a result, even if what we will hear will be limited to 140 characters. But it is part of what may turn out to be a significant modernisation of the judicial system in England, and maybe also elsewhere. It may also help to build up a picture of the courts as an institution more in tune with the age on which they are required to issue judgement. Most courts still have a ‘look and feel’ of a place where the telephone is only barely known, never mind Twitter. It is important not to confuse dignity with antiquity, and this is a step in the right direction.
I don’t anticipate that judgements will now be published in 140 characters, but it may be that they will not contain puzzled queries about the meaning of online social networking.