Twitter, has encouraged a shift to a telegraphic writing style. Users must rethink their thoughts as they cram them into a 140-character space. This has introduced some new abbreviations but it has also served to shake out others. Twitter users who create tweets that are difficult to understand tend to attract few tweeps and are rarely retweeted. OK… time to do a little interpretation. Obviously, Twitter has also given us a whole new vocabulary. Lexicographer Erin McKean recently provided a primer for Twitterese in the Boston Globe:
The messages are tweets; the people signed up to get them are your followers – or tweeple, or tweeps (although there are people pushing twerps and twits as the proper nomenclature).
The Twittersphere (or Twitterverse) includes both the Twitterati (or Tweetstars) who have lots and lots of followers, and those who have just a few. It even includes tworkers – people whose jobs involve using Twitter.
A twoosh is a message that fits the maximum of 140 characters exactly, without editing; there are also mistweets, retweets, and – when sent under the influence of alcohol – dweets.
Twittering too much may get you accused of Twitterhea, or cause your tweeple to unfollow you. Unfollowing might also be the punishment for other breaches of Twitiquette, such as using Twitter to send spam tweets (or speets).
Anyone gagging yet? I know I am. All of those tw- words are particular to the Twitter subculture, but unfollowing deserves special attention and will be covered in my next post.
However, before leaving the discussion of tw- words, I want to cover “retweet” in a little bit of detail. If you read a tweet that you think is particularly good, it is perfectly acceptable to simply repeat that tweet as if it were tweet of your own. There is an option on Twitter to make this easy and it gives attribution to the person whose tweet your are repeating.
People generally like to be retweeted (as long as they are recognized in the tweet.) It indicates to them that you find their content to be interesting. That is nice. It also broadens their exposure to a larger group of people because the people who are following you and probably not the same people following them. This means that even more people will be aware of how interesting they are.
More on the new language of social media in my next post.