danah boyd, Scott Golder, and Gilad Lotan."Tweet Tweet Retweet: Conversational Aspects of Retweeting on Twitter." Proceedings of HICSS-42, Persistent Conversation Track. Kauai, HI: IEEE Computer Society January 5-8, 2010
In this article, boyd, Golder, and Lotan briefly explain Twitter before assessing one type of Twitter syntax, its “RT” (retweet) function. Use cases and data samples are used to analyze how retweeeting conventions differ in terms of style, motivation, and content. A structured analytical framework helps categorize the diverse use of retweeting and the implications it has as a conversation practice on authorship, attribution, and communicative fidelity.
Twitter’s lack of structured messaging is both a strength and weakness. Even though Twitter creates a public where conversational engagement and participation is virtually boundless, there are trade-offs. The authors conclude that Twitter creates unavoidable ambiguity. Its broadcast nature causes messages to organically become part of multiple conversations with differing contexts, and with content that can be altered over time. While a free form addressing syntax enables people to direct (“@”), group (“#”), and forward (“RT”) messages, such constructs remain imperfect. In particular, the retweet function inadequately preserves a sense of authorship, attribution, and communicative fidelity based on observed practices. However, re-broadcasting messages via Twitter’s RT function represents a valuable form of engagement even though it means the loss of an orderly exchange of messages for its participants.
Additionally, the authors point out that many forms of electronic communication rely on messages exchanged between identified senders and receivers in a directed manner (e.g., e-mail). Since messages are bounded to that communication channel, message awareness and access is limited to people on its address list. Micro-blogging services like Twitter overcome awareness and access constraints inherent in channel-centric tools through a post model that broadcasts messages into a public stream without requiring people receiving the message to be identified. As a result, Twitter creates a more visible and transparent network structure that disperses conversations by not limiting messages to a closed communication channel and group.
networked_public, conversation_practices, twitter, retweet, boyd, Honeycutt, Granovetter