1083: Writing Styles
Title text: I liked the idea, suggested by h00k on bash.org, of a Twitter bot that messages prominent politicians to tell them when they've unnecessarily used sms-speak abbreviations despite having plenty of characters left.
This comic is less about how teenagers write on the internet and more about how politicians write on the internet. The comic shows that a lot of politicians use "sms-speak", which involves substituting numbers for letters and shortening phrases to get a longer idea across in fewer characters at the cost of readability. The practice began first with text messages, also known as SMS or Short Message Service which limited messages to 160 characters. Twitter has adopted the 140 character limit since its inception, which allowed any given tweet to be received as a text message with enough room for the user's Twitter handle (15 characters max).
The point of the comic is that there is no reason for anyone, especially politicians, to use "sms-speak" in tweets unless they are reaching the 140 character limit. Additionally, Ron Paul followers tend to be younger, possibly due to his support for the legalization of marijuana as well as his tendency to occasionally express political ideas that do not fit the mainstream of established US politics.
Technically speaking, neither example given exceeds 60 characters. Indeed, extending the "sms-speak" to logical full character words and punctuation only uses slightly more than half the character limit:
- Ron Paul is the only candidate who offers us a real choice! (59 characters)
- its gettin l8 so ill b here 4 prob 2 more hrs tops (50 characters)
- It is getting late, so I will be here for probably two more hours, tops. (72 characters)
In more broad sense, the comic appears to make a point that in public relations politicians are prone to adopting the wording that they think would make them look closer to their target audience. Predictably, such attempts tend to fail because politicians would use such wording out of context, due to the lack of corresponding background.
By depicting the proper use of English by a teenager, the comic also appears to hint at how stereotypes, in particular a stereotype of modern youth being superficial and lacking proper writing skills, are often not true.
- [This is a chart with the above two labeled columns. The rows will be represented below in the same format.]
- If you post: you sound like
- "Ron Paul is the only candidate who offers us a real choice!": A teenager
- "its gettin l8 so ill b here 4 prob 2 more hrs tops": A senator
- The internet has wound up in kind of a weird place.