Who Says: Narrative Authority In a Fragmented World

Jay Rosen tweeted this seminal post by Megan Garber, articulating what the web and digital media are doing to authority memes and journalism's role in this bizarre new world.

Since the need to manage the tangled and competing taxonomic hierarchies of such a Narrative Big Brother has been my professional fascination for years, I couldn't help but notice.  

I think it's required reading for every journalist, citizen, media theorist, media guru, social media consultant, politician, educator, and student. Ok, ok….make that everyone that can fucking read.

Transparency needs to be about fostering conversation rather than ending it.

Megan Garber

Read: Who Says : CJR.

I have created or promoted several tags and codes that are in everyday use on Twitter. And I use many of them, often. Logically enough, one result of that is that I often get asked what some code or tag means. So I've listed the common ones below to save me some time and keystrokes in the future.

If I've left out anything that youv'e seen me use often, please let me know.  I'm not going to make this a glossary of all codes in use. Only the ones which I personally use. I will list some general tag glossaries at the bottom of this post.

Signal Codes

VIA  - Has been used like RT in some older Twitter clients, but I personally dislike it. It's very ambiguous to start with, and the different takes on its meaning make it worse. I prefer it to mean (as do many) that "I came upon this resource via (by way of): @name."  While  @name can often be an individual when appropriate, it is most often a publication name, be it newspaper, blog, TV show, or some other venue. Via should refer to the primary publication conveying the content, and not necessarily the content's author (although they can be one and the same.). 

Example: "This title here" by @pinhead666 was via @oprahshow." 
 

HT  (or h/t, or simply ^@name)  Stands for "Hat Tip," an acknowledgement to the person who brought the item to my attention. While HT is the most common variant, I've now switched to the programmer's "hat" (^) symbol. It saves two characters (including the space after HT), and that is not an insignificant savings in Twitterville's 140 character space.

Example: "This title here" by @pinhead666 was via @oprahshow. ^@dingleberry

FTW"For The Win."

Codes Created By Me

I've also conceived or embraced a few codes that everyone would use, were I ever King.  Some of my followers and friends use them now. These can be typed upper or lower case, but the preferred case is indicated.

MT — Modified Tweet/Transmission. The tweet was substantially changed to mock or clarify.

CC — Carbon Copy routing to list of people.  Do not retweet (or the recipients get tweet-bombed).

by — precedes person or organization that authored the work being tweeted. Best when referring to single, not multiple creators. See next.

cr— Creator code. Essentially a more multipurpose version of "BY @someone" when more than one author or producer created the work.  Based on Dublin Core meta data standards. Signifies that @name mentioned before the CR code had some kind of creative authorship or moderating role in relation to the Tweet or resource.  The precise role is beyond the scope of the code, and a level of detail that cannot be conveyed in a tweet. This code at least affirms there is such a role relationship to be further discovered. 

Code Glossaries

Hashtags

#p2 — The "clear channel" umbrella tag for Progressives (you may know them as "Liberals") to connect up and share resources and information across Twitter and other social networks. Read its history and mission here: About the #p2 Tag For Progressives.

#tcot  — Top Conservatives on Twitter.  In reality, it's mostly unhinged teaparty whack jobs, but it's entertaining for some when there's nothing on TV. I usually include this tag in a tweet when I believe the content is of interest to the conservatives wrecking America, or is simply so deliciously mocking that they shouldn't be left out of the mirth.

#tlotTop Libertarians on Twitter. People who wanted to maintain some distance from the whackjobs in #tcot (see previous), but ended up with their own homegrown variation of the tag. After all, as Drew Carey said, "A libertarian is just a conservative who still gets high."

#ocra — Organized Christian Resistance Alliance. A fringe conservative group who should be watched closely before they bite the heads off too many squirrels.

#WTL – Wingnut Threat Level.  A color-coded system for indicating the current alert status of the biggest threat to democracy since Rush Limbaugh. I created this tag because someone had to.

Hash Tags Created By Me

#ff — Alias for "#FollowFriday," but also being repurposed to mean: "Friends to follow."   It basically means, "I am recommending these [ @names in this tweet ] to my followers.

I did not create #followFriday. I did spend years almost bodily forcing people to shorten it to the much more sensible and economic form now known as "#FF."  Read more about that history, and my redefinition of it here.

#Hatriot — Means "this tweet concerns a Foxbagger, Limbaugh/Beck listener,  or some other strain of right wingnut.  Those who know me, know I've been using this term since 1996, on various services. I neglected to add it to Urban Dictionary (only started doing that with my terms recently), and only recently did someone else finally get around to doing that. And that's fine. I just love the term. Credit is for those kids on the FreeCreditReport.com ads.

Hashtag Directories

  • Hashtags.org — A dictionary of tags (which are best picked up by just watching and asking).

Words and Terms Coined by Me

My Urban Dictionary Contributions

Twictionary.com  —which I administrate, had all sorts of Twerms I've created, defined, or just use a lot.

 

What is the BL code?

A proposed Message Code for Twitter and any social network.

The BL code means "broken link." It tells someone that a link they sent out was defective.

Geekly speaking, it should be "resource," but I won't get into why. I think the average Twitter user can remember, "Broken link," Busted link, Borked Link, etc..  Not going to spend much time writing this up formally, yet, but feel free to comment/disqus it below.  Perhaps we can make it grow!

As always, I reserve the right to completely discard or discredit this idea at any moment, and without warning or notification of any kind.  #SoSuckit

When To Use The BL Code

Anytime you click someone's social feed links, and get any type of fail, and want to quickly, with a minimum of keystrokes, tell the sender that the failure happened, so they can fix it, hopefully before their bad link gets too much traction with their followers, retweeters, etc. 

The failure may have been due to:

  • Failed links (404s, etc.)
  • Video, page, or widget failure.
  • The earth gets hit by an asteroid and we all die.

 

What are Message Codes?

Among the many needs we have in the social space, is more codes to give some quick semantic or semiotic meaning to social media messages (tweets). Twitter has become the 21st century telegraph, on many levels. But it still lacks its own modern morse code for daily use.

Mostly for my own fun and use, I am creating a few codes as the need for them becomes apparent. Most languages and syntaxes get set in stone far too quickly, but you can be sure the social namespace is going to get crowded, as our social nets evolve.  I'd like to see an organic, bottom-up evolution from daily use for the most ubiquitous daily codes. Let local dialects flourish! Hopefully there will never be too many at the root level. I'd like to see lean, mean and very clean (and thus, easy to adopt).

Twitter is the proverbial herd of cats, and the only way anything can happen is over time, with enough people doing it. It gets easier if what we want people to do is really SIMPLE. Thus, I have come up with these few…

The Tweet (Or Transmit) Codes:

 

MT = Modified Tweet/Transmission

Substantially changed to mock or clarify, but may have altered meaning. Be sure to check original, if it could matter.

FF = Follow Friends

Follow anyone, anytime #FF Hashtag.

BL = Broken Link or Resource.  [new]

Please repair & resend… and/or delete bad original.

CC = Carbon Copy Recipent List   [proposed]

Do Not Retweet. Recipients only need to receive it ONCE (and not be tweet-bombed).

DR = Don't Retweet/Retransmit [proposed]

Do Not Retweet. Only copy & paste the message/URL it is linked to (or ignore/discard/keep as just a memo).

 

 

Why Define These Codes?

Because I can, of course.  And because they are needed, and because I want to use them right now, myself, and feel my 6000+ followers would, as well.  Each is based on years of daily practical tweeting.  Few would argue that I do and read a lot of that, and I feel my years of programming and interface design skills makes me at least as eligible as anyone else is to make hideous mistakes.

I am sure others, with an interest in such things, will come up with a more robust standards scheme to build on my meager beginnings, or just overwrite them completely. I'm down with either outcome.  For now, Shoq codes are an intuitive and useful language start, that could assist in the evolution of more useful tools (quickly).

See Also: My "MT" signal idea

Can you do this on Twitter… just make stuff up?

So who's gonna stop me, you? Yes, you can just make stuff up :)  Twitter is a community defined tool; many of the better ideas, including the RT, #hashtags, and other conventions came about via an ad hoc adoption by the community itself.  What works is what people decide is useful, and they just start using it. As of September 10th, 2009, I had been using the BL signal for about a week. I intend to keep using it.  If others find it a good idea, it will endure, and future digital anthropologists may find this page and understand its origins. If it doesn't, it's just one more of my thousands of bad or failed ideas nobody will remember a month from now :)

What is the MT code?

It’s a new gesturing code for Twitter messages, suggested to me, and then enlarged by me, to mean that some Twitter update was a  “Modified Tweet.” It is meant to expand and complement the more traditional Retweet (RT) gesture, which is probably the most familiar symbol on Twitter after the @sign. As most know, the RT code means, “I have copied and pasted some other user’s tweet and am passing it along to my own followers.”

For those who hate to read all the fine print, in a nutshell, MT means: “I have modified this tweet substantially, for reasons of my own choosing, and you may want to seek out the original before coming to any conclusions about the original author’s content, meaning, intents, or purposes.”

In the many months since I first proposed it, MT has finally started to gain some serious traction. @twitter_tips has broadcasted it a number of times, which brings along new adopters at a steady clip.  Like any new protocol, standard, or signal code, these things take time.  But it seems that MT has proven its mettle and found a niche in the marketplace of reasonably good Twitter ideas.

Oh, and as a rule of thumb, when the really big losers start to catch on, it’s clearly arrived: http://twitter.com/#!/SpeakerBoehner/status/32170448795992064

What’s wrong with RT, Via or PRT gestures?

Nothing. The RT is great device when you are mostly making a copy of a tweet, and perhaps doing some minor edits to shorten it, either to fit into the 140 length limit, or to make room for a remark you want to tack on. And using “via” is fine when you are saying: 1) “this link, or info, came by way of @soAndso, but I have mostly used my own tweet text to tell you about it,” or; 2) when it is in fact a RT, but the “RT @name” prefix would obscure the prosaic elegance, or some other impact of the tweet.*

Finally, the rarely used, but occasionally mentioned “PRT (Partial Retweet),” was always poorly defined, but supposed to mean “modified somehow, probably to shorten it.” The problem that MT addresses, however,  can be seen when your tweet doesn’t fit either of the above cases because you’re making major alterations for purposes such as:

  • Correcting the content in a substantial way.
  • You’re uncertain of the accuracy of a correction.
  • Expanding the content in a substantial way.
  • Mocking the content, the subject, or the sender.
  • Using source content in some way other than as intended.
  • Otherwise recommending that the source’s timeline be checked before assuming anything about the Tweet is accurate–or even related to what they may have said or meant.

Such alterations can, and often do, completely obliterate the original content and meaning, and it is NOT NICE to the original tweeter, to simply imply a RT, or Via, when in fact, you have altered it substantially for any reason.  The reader has no idea whether it’s a true RT, or a completely new work. That’s where the MT gesture comes in.

MT says “tweet is a Modification of another tweet.”

Simply by using MT, the reader instantly knows that the tweet is based on another tweet, so that if they have any questions about its authenticity, content, accuracy, or intent, they can go to the timeline of the original Tweeter and check out the original tweet. In the vast majority of cases that isn’t necessary, but when it is, it’s VERY necessary.  We have all seen flame wars erupt where someone says “@soAndSo, you changed my tweet. That is not what I said.”  The MT is a courtesy that acknowledges the alteration from the start, and avoids all that drama. But it’s also a courteous practice to use when you plan to substantially alter someone’s tweet merely add your two cents, or have fun with it.

Should MT be used for ANY changes to a tweet?

No. Only when you alter the content or its meaning in some significant way. You would NOT use it when merely shrinking (shortening) text to fit into the 140 character space. That is almost always assumed to happen in Retweets now. The MT gesture says to readers, “I’ve made changes that are more than just cosmetic, and I might be munging it up for purposes of amusement or insult. Check the source tweet before assuming it was in any way authentic, or remotely resembling what the tweeter originally said or meant before cursing them out for it.

Is the MT an official gesture

Nope.  It’s simply a good idea that Twitter user @twitwrit suggested as a convention when modifying a tweet with typos or grammar errors. I realized that was a great and necessary idea I’d wanted many times myself, but for the even larger mission of indicating alteration for ANY purpose.  So I decided to expand on the idea, use it, and promote it among my followers, and with this post, everyone else on Twitter, as well.

Will 3rd party applications recognize MT?

No.  The MT is NOT a retweet, or a Via.  It’s substantially different enough that it should be considered “a new work.”  Thus, you would not want it being regarded as a retweet or a via.  Of course, should someone decide to Retweet the new MT, that can and should be processed normally because the “RT” codel (or Via) would be present.

Can you do this on Twitter… just make stuff up?

Well, who’s gonna stop me? You? Just kidding :). In all seriousness, yes, you can just make stuff up. Twitter is a community defined tool; many of the better ideas, including the RT, #hashtags, and other conventions came about via an ad hoc adoption by the community itself. What works is what people decide is useful, and they just start using it. As of September 10th, 2009, I had been using the MT for about a week. I intend to keep using it.  If others find it a good idea, it will endure, and future digital anthropologists may find this page and understand its origins. If it doesn’t, it’s just one more of my thousands of bad or failed ideas nobody will remember a month from now :)

* More about “Via” —   I’ve never been wild about the fuzziness of this code. It’s far too imprecise. It was used to mean RT in some twitter clients, before RT caught on.  All too often, it’s used to mean “Original Author,” and that usage should be terminated with extreme prejudice.  When not meaning RT, it should really only be used to mean “the source of this was, or it came to me by way of.”  There really IS no current convention for “Author,” but there should be.  I personally use “by: @soAndSo,” when I mean that “they wrote this,” but details on that suggestion will be a future show:)

Related

About Shoq’s Common Hash Tags, Codes and Terms  – http://bit.ly/shoqcodes