Public notebook

links for 2009-08-27

  • Draft of a paper looking at the practice of retweting in Twitter.
  • "One of the norms we’d be wise to establish is this: People who don’t stand behind their words deserve, in almost every case, no respect for what they say. In many cases, anonymity is a hiding place that harbors cowardice, not honor. The more we can encourage people to use their real names, the better. But if we try to force this, we’ll create more trouble than we fix.

    "People who’d ban anonymity don’t seem to realize that it’s technically impossible unless we’re willing to turn over all of our communications in every venue to a central authority — a system that would herald the end of liberty. They can’t really want such a regime, can they? Meanwhile, even that kind of structure could and would be hacked by motivated types, though with more difficulty."

  • ""Startup 101" is a serialized book about the thrills and spills of starting a Web technology venture. It will be a regular feature in our new channel ReadWriteStart, dedicated to profiling startups and entrepreneurs. Startup 101 is for first-time entrepreneurs who want to go through the whole startup life cycle – including raising money, building a valuable business, and making a lot of money by selling the venture or taking it public."
    (tags: startups howto)
Public notebook

Tweet’s anatomy: Microsoft retweet research (Pls RT)

Frankly I think my spell-checker’s a bit of laggard when it comes to the social web. But, bless it, it’s learning fast at the moment…

Every other word or phrase it thinks I need correct.

“Retweet” is a phrase it will need to learn soon, very soon indeed.

Danah Boyd at her colleagues at Microsoft Research have created a draft paper on the phenomenon, called Tweet, Tweet, Retweet: Conversational Aspects of Retweeting on Twitter. It is based on analysis of over over 700,000 tweets (430,000 or so users), taken in samples of five minute chunks between January and June 2006.

  • 36% of tweets mention a user in the form ‘@user’
  • 5% of tweets contain a hashtag (#)
  • 22% of tweets include a URL (‘http’)
  • 3% of tweets are likely to be retweets in that they contain ‘RT’, ‘retweet’ and/or ‘via’
  • 9% of retweets include the users own handle – dubbed “ego retweets” (though the paper acknowledges that sometimes this can be “a way of giving credit” or saying thank you, as i’ve seen it.
  • ‘RT’ is very much the predominant form, with 88% of the retweets using this (Tweetie please take note and change your app’s retweet function).

Retweeting is such an interesting phenomenon I’m sure there will be further studies soon and they will find shifting patterns in these sort of numbers as the practice evolves and/or matures.

There is a nice analysis of the reasons for retweeting (for ’tis now a verb – get used to it spellchecker) including amplification, commenting, making the retweeter’s presence known, qualifying a statement made by someone else, recognition of another, to get more followers and as a form of bookmarking a tweet. It’s not always a postive behaviour and can be “a selfish act of attention seekers”.

It’s a draft paper at the moment, with the final version scheduled to be published in January 2010 in HICSS (Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences) – congratulations, guys.

The authors Twitter handles are @zephoria, @redlog and @gilgul.