RT @mecredis RANT RANT

First, if you don’t like Twitter (I know, this blog is becoming a Twitter fan page, but hey, its my blog, right?) don’t read this post. It’ll just annoy you, so consider this your fair warning.

Last night I finally figured out how to change Tweetie on the iPhone’s setting to allow me to post RT‘s instead of via‘s. The setting was buried in “Advanced -> Experimental ->  RT-gurgitationability” an obviously spiteful placement and label.

This means that my retweets look like this:

RT @creativecommons: June’s CC Salon NYC / @OpenVideo Conf Pre-Party: http://bit.ly/jAk1b Facebook RSVP: http://bit.ly/qJU3b

instead of this:

June’s CC Salon NYC / @OpenVideo Conf Pre-Party: http://bit.ly/jAk1b Facebook RSVP: http://bit.ly/qJU3b (via @creativecommons)

Why would Tweetie make it so difficult to use the RT convention over their suggested via convention?

This answer seems seems to be rooted in a minority view held by the creator of Tweetie. He doesn’t think the RT form is “cool” and thinks that it discourages people from “thinking for themselves”.

Or something.

The points raised against RT followed by my thoughts:

I don’t know how to reply to this. Is the @ symbol in e-mail cool? Its a convention, get over it.

So what? A massive amount of human creation is “me too”; there’s no reason to discourage this on a software level. Let people filter out the “me-too’ers” using their own agency and following habits. You’re not going to suddenly encourage people to be more original by breaking your own software and bucking a convention.

There are plenty of people that I stopped following on Twitter because their output consisted only of RT’s, and I agree, they were spammy. But again, hiding a useful feature because you think its going to decrease spam is naive at best, and fascist at worst.

More importantly, however, there’s value in verbatim copying: you preserve the tone and the meaning of the source. How should I retweet something that Shaq says, if I want my followers to see it, supposing they don’t already follow him? Am I supposed to rewrite Shaq’s words? The curious way in which Shaq interprets the English language on Twitter is one of the best reasons to follow him. Rewriting Shaq’s tweets would kill the meaning, and so would linking to them.

I also fail to see the difference in the claim that all retweets should be rewritten or linked from the claim  that all journalists must rewrite and link quotes from their sources. The point is making the actual quote available in their words, right now, not through a link, and not through your lens.

I actually have sympathy for this, to a certain extent. Many friends were confused by RT when joining twitter, but they asked questions and discovered the meaning. Same with e-mail.

You’re making my point for me!

One final point against Tweetie’s suggested convention: when you use (via @ … ) you’re adding 3 unnecessary characters compared to RT, which are precious when faced with Twitter’s 140 limit.

Anyway, at the end of the day, the developer of Tweetie’s behavior represents a strong argument for software freedom. If you can view the source, modify it, and distribute a new version, why not just fork the project and “fix” the bug instead?

I suppose this is what I get for using closed source software. Too bad Tweetie works better than the open source clients.

  1. Have to agree with you. There is a difference between the two — I think the RT syntax is useful because it credits the caption author by prefixing the post with the original authors username. I personally use “via” in cases when I want to credit a link, but will provide my own caption.

  2. Nice, I think that’s a really good compromise and probably preserves what they were trying to do in the first place.

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