“When people say, “Information on Twitter can be unreliable,” they overlook one of Twitter data’s most unique attributes — its ability to verify itself.”

This from Dataminr’s Ted Bailey (@tedbailey) reporting that Twitter confirmed the Harlem explosion first.

When looking at a single tweet from an unfamiliar source, it can sometimes be difficult to be certain about its veracity. When tweets are looked at in the aggregate around breaking events and clustered together, the adjacent “dots” can be synthesized to paint one of the most definitive data-descriptions of an unfolding event.

Traditional legal publishers are quick to question the reliability of information from blogs and Twitter.

How do you know if the blog post is correct? Is the blogger authoritative? Anyone can jump on Twitter and start to Tweet. Look at all the false information that’s tweeted during breaking news.

There’s almost a smugness I get when I discuss the value of social media with traditional publishers. They’re just blogs. It’s just Twitter. It can be be just a lot of noise coming at you.

As Bailey points out, many overlook the fact that the aggregate data can often give the most accurate lens by which information can be confirmed.

What’s more reliable? One legal reporter calling a source or two and getting out a story the next day or five or ten lawyers blogging on the legal development that day with comments and Tweets commenting on the blog posts.

The fact that one does not understand how to use the Internet, as others do, in a way to get an aggregate view does not diminish the reliability of an aggregate view of blog posts and tweets.

The role of articles in law journals and law reviews has, in large part, been to advance the law. How can these articles which take 18 months to write and get peer reviewed by only a select group, as opposed the open net, advance the law near as well blogs and Twitter?

No question that the systems for mining and presenting for use the law gleaned from social media are not where they need to be. If legal publishers were wise, they’d be working on these tools rather than trying to hold on to the past.

Thought not perfect, social media in the law, primarily blogging and Twitter, is one of the most effective and reliable means for staying abreast of developments in the law.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Gideon Burton