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.
Sms-speak is a style of communication 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 a 140 character limit since its inception, which allowed any given tweet to be received as an SMS message with enough room for the user's Twitter handle (15 characters max).
Randall is poking fun at both the stereotypical Senator and at teenagers supporting Ron Paul.
The dig at the senator refers to poor use of sms-style abbreviations by older, less tech-savvy politicians who are hoping to appear more in tune with the modern world. Many politicians use sms-speak in cases when their message isn't in danger of the character limit, but where they are appealing to a younger demographic, thinking it makes them appear to be "modern" to their target audience. In reality, it may do the opposite, showing that they do not understand why sms-speak is used at all.
Conversely modern teenagers, often stereotyped as lacking proper writing skills due to character limits on services such as SMS and twitter, instead here produce coherent sentences expressing a political view (this is later discussed in 1414: Writing Skills). There is a subtle dig that being drawn to Ron Paul is a stereotypical political position for a teenager, as Paul is ideologically libertarian, and the implication is that libertarianism is a position held while younger and politically or economically naive. Randall has also poked fun at libertarianism on several other occasions, such as 610: Sheeple, 1026: Compare and Contrast, 1049: Bookshelf and 1277: Ayn Random. The teenager's tweet is almost identical to the stereotypical Paul-ite comment made fun of in the title text to 1026: "Only Ron Paul offers a TRUE alternative!"
A few years ago, the sentence attributed to the teenager is the sort of thing that would stereotypically be assigned to a senator, while the sentence attributed to the senator would be stereotypically assigned to a teenager - however, now the situation has changed and so Randall comments that the internet has ended up in "kind of a weird place".
The title text discusses an idea that Randall approves of, originally suggested by a user on bash.org called h00k, where a twitter bot be created to message politicians when they use sms-speak unnecessarily. This would presumably embarrass said politicians, which might in turn lead to a decrease in their use of sms-speak. Randall evidently considers this a good thing, suggesting he finds the unnecessary use of sms-speak annoying.
- [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.
When this comic came out in 2012, the twitter limit was actually 140 characters. It has since doubled to 280, to allow longer messages, and due to the declining popularity of SMS.add a comment! ⋅ add a topic (use sparingly)! ⋅ refresh comments!