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July 08, 2009


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This is a real issue and with only 140 char. It makes sense to have some convention.

I like the: RT @(original source) et al via @(my source)

I trim content often but keep the source. I think most peeps want the recognition. Nice article.

Hi Josie, thanks for your great post showing the difficulties of RT.

For Replies Twitter stores the original tweet in their metadata (inReplyTo) but they do not for Retweets. Like with forwarding e-mails I would love to see Twitter storing these additional metadata. I started a request for this additional semantic relation at http://bit.ly/bOvuw . If they stored all the information it would be very easy to retrace who retweeted who... What do you think?

I tend towards RT @(my source) RT @(originator). If I felt important to acknowledge there had been a chain I'd put an ellipsis between the two. Informality of env means that complete chain not relevant and clutters. Important is to know origin and to give due credit to my informant.

Menat to say: use this system as quicker to re-edit post by cutting out intermediaries. If I have to reform the chain I'm less likely to retweet in the first place. BTW, I thought "et al" meant co-authors/creators. Someone who passes on info is not such.

Twitter is not an academic environment that has to conform to rules, rather one that lives on flexible social conventions.

Thanks very much for the comments.

Kenny - I think you've basically nailed it. Everyone would like recognition, and where possible it's good manners to pay them their due. It's been really interesting going through this conversation with my network on twitter, being able to work through the practical issues. I've settled on the following -
1. Give everyone RT Credit where possible
2. Give informant and source where possible, informant first, source indicated with the colon, ie:
RT @flash_ahah et al RT @timbuckteeth: Most important issue in e-Learning

I'd actually rather edit content than just give the origional source, but that's me.

I've used @informant et al once this week - basically to refer to a story everyone had retweeted and that didn't have a personal author to attribute/offend within Twitter.

Wolfgang - I am totally in favor of any way of using metadata fields to make things easier for everyone. The only obvious issue I would have here is that Twitter does not store or retrieve your content indefinitely. After a few months, unless you've archived them using a third party service, those event or other tags will have vanished into the ether. Twitter also only stores your last 400 direct messages, & deletes those from your inbox that the recipient deletes themselves (whether they were sent by you or them). What I'm saying is that Twitter is a real pain in terms of archiving and retrieval, and they would have to do a lot more than improve their metadata (although that would be nice) in order for me not to have to depend on third party services for functionality. Only this morning I was thinking wistfully about Jaiku - the far superior microblogging/lifestreaming service which was brought by Google, & completely mismanaged. Then again, the best and most useful things about the web are often the simplicity and ephemerality of practices. & certainly simplicity and ephemerality are critical core design values in terms of the hordes of third party application businesses who make their money by elaborating on mainstream services in an endless variety of ways.

Neil - I totally agree. I guess my use of et al, with it's academic contexts, makes it sound pompous to some people. In my head, it's slang shorthand for and all, everyone, lots of people, etc. I've always used et al in that way, & there's no reason why my particular habits and writing tone should translate very well or be appropriate for many people.

More than anything I agree with your last sentence "Twitter is not an academic environment that has to conform to rules, rather one that lives on flexible social conventions." This is precisely why I enjoy Twitter and want to hang out there. This post is, rather selfishly, about me thinking through the practicalities of my referencing in an environment where kudos is important. As such I hope that it works as a small contributes to the conversation about social engagement, rather than prohibits any form of play, experimentation or adaption.

I'll finish this stupidly long reply by linking to another interesting piece on RT that was posted this week, Dan Zarrella's ReTweets Change Everything : http://danzarrella.com/retweets-change-everything.html

Hey Josie, Nice post. How would you credit me as the originator of this morning's OSCON tweet?



Howard, I RT'd that post from @govwiki, who somewhat strangely credited you by a link to your origional tweet: http://twitter.com/govwiki/statuses/3268543228

apologies for not giving you link love - have amended:


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