The Evolution of Retweeting

Twitter 在本質上是個發佈與訂閱(publish and subscribe)模式的訊息傳播渠道與社群,隨著社群的擴大與用戶的互相影響與學習,傳播的方式與影響益發豐富多彩,ReTweet 就是一個非常有趣的題目。

若對 Rwtweet 這個現象有興趣,Technology Review 的這篇 The Evolution of Retweeting 是個很好的起點,Dan Zarrella 做了許多和 ReTweet 現象有關的有趣分析,也值得看看(花了許久時間寫的東西在存檔時竟然格式和資料都掉了,大為掃興,所以草草寫幾句,重新發過,剛剛丟掉的東就算了,唉)。


Twitter has incorporated other user-generated linguistic tools, such as using a hash symbol in front of a word to make it easily searchable (like "#conference09"). Another common technique is typing @ in front of a username to reply directly (but publically) to the user, which Twitter also formalized after users adopted it. These linguistic tools have even trickled into other social media environments, including YouTube, Flickr, Facebook, and blogs. ......Currently, there is no set format for retweeting, which loosely consists of reposting someone's tweet and giving due credit. .............

But the retweeting format is much more inconsistent and complex than the targeted reply and hashtag conventions, according to Microsoft Research social media scientistDanah Boyd, who recently posted a paper on the behavior of retweeting. Variations include typing the attribution at the end and using "via," "by," or "retweet" instead of "RT." What's more, people often add their own comments before or after a retweet. This becomes a problem with Twitter's 140-character limit, explains Boyd. Typing "RT @username" takes up characters, and so does adding a comment. To deal with this, users will paraphrase or omit part of the original text, sometimes leading to incorrect quotes.

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Users often employ retweets to provide context in conversation, says Susan Herring, a professor of information science and linguistics at Indiana University and editor in chief of the Language@Internet journal. "I can't imagine that [the new Twitter tool] will be very satisfactory to Twitter retweeters," says Herring. "A retweet plus a comment is a conversation. A retweet alone could be an endorsement, but it's a stretch to view an exchange of endorsements as a conversation." Herring does agree that it will increase retweeting and broaden the range of users who retweet.

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"People will continue to repurpose Twitter to meet their needs," predicts Herring. "I can't imagine that those who are passionate retweeters will discontinue their practices."

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