Dot Dot Dot: Sharing is caring, and so is tweeting

How we talk when we talk about Twitter.


Owen Thomas

Internet Culture

Published Feb 16, 2012   Updated Jun 2, 2021, 9:18 pm CDT

Why am I an editor? It probably comes down to this: I really love telling people precisely what to do, what to think, and what to say. Love it!

One of the things you get to do as a bossypants editor is set a style guide. Just as we embrace Web communities, we embrace their language. We don’t put scare quotes around like or tweet or share. Those are normal things to do, not unnatural acts.

So it’s with some amusement that I noted the New York Times still doesn’t consider the word “tweet” part of our lingua franca.

What does it mean when tweeting is baked into our iPhones and our Macs, but it’s not considered formal speech? Like it or not, it’s part of our linguistic operating system.

I believe we should embrace how the communities we cover really communicate. And as chief executive style-guide writer, I get to make it so.

Thanks for letting me share.

I’m almost done writing about Path, everyone’s favorite mobile social network/surprise address-book importer. But there’s one point I haven’t seen anyone make: Why pick on Path for its crime of uploading users’ contacts without disclosing it? There’s a reason, and it has nothing to do with software or privacy policies or application programming interfaces.

Sure enough, enterprising journalists have found that many apps do similar things. And those app makers are all now scrambling to fix their software and make users click on a box before they send their address books to some unknown destination in the cloud.

But let’s be serious: Foodspotting? Angry Birds? It’s hard to get worked up about these apps rifling through our address books.

No, we got upset about Path because Path promised us something magical: an online world where we could hang out with just our real friends. It turned out that the magic carpet that whisked us there, Path’s uncanny matching, was a cheat. Because Path is all about sharing more intimate details with close friends, its faux pas felt like a betrayal.

Path has deleted the data it snuck out of our phones, and CEO Dave Morin apologized. But I’m not sure how he gets that feeling of innocent discovery back.

Bloomberg has a tech blog. It is called Tech Blog. I learned about this from a tech blogger, who blogs about tech.

I now believe it when they say tech blogging is dead.


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*First Published: Feb 16, 2012, 3:36 pm CST