Twitter: Changing How We Read & Write Online

May 8, 2009
Jillian

Twitter Fail Whale

May 8, 2009
Written for Newfangled’s Blog

l’m an active Twitter user, and l keep finding small Twitterisms creeping into my everyday writing. Creative ways of getting around the 140-character limit are appearing in everything l type… “&” instead of “and,” “#” instead of “number,” using only 1 space between sentences instead of the usual 2, etc.

It’s really starting to bother me.

Anyone else having this problem? Finding yourselves typing everything in Twitterese?

Now that Twitter is blowing up all over the media and more & more accounts are being created every day, I’m starting to wonder about the effects it will have on the general vocabulary & writing style (I’m a grammar geek)– as well as what effects it may have on people’s online attention spans. Having everything broken down into convenient little 140-character bites will surely change the way we consume information online. I, for one, admit that it’s much more difficult to digest a multi-page news story now that I’ve grown accustomed to getting my breaking news updates from tiny blurbs.

There’s plenty of documentation out there about website users’ reading patterns– that we mostly “scan” website text and rarely ever read every single word. Twitter is just going to escalate this behavior, which already poses a significant roadblock for websites that rely heavily on text to get their message across. It’s already hard enough to get visitors to your website and then actually pay attention to your writing, but will Twitter make it even more difficult?

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