The Emergent Grammar of Twitter

danah boyd has just posted an academic article (under review) on retweeting at her blog:

We wanted to explore retweeting as a conversational practice. In doing so, we highlight just how bloody messy retweeting is. Often, folks who are deeply embedded in the culture think that there are uniform syntax conventions, that everyone knows what they’re doing and agrees on how to do it. We found that this is blatantly untrue. When it comes to retweeting, things get messy.

It’s a must read and reminds us that there is serious grammatological work to do. We need to ask how does Twitter as a system of writing shapes, structure, and delimit our thinking and communication. The simple encoded rule “speak less than 141 characters,” the open question “what are you doing?” and emergent convention “RT, via, retweet, @philippmueller, etc.” allow for surprisingly complex human speech. Time to re-read Friedrich Kittler’s Aufschreibesystem 1800/1900 and Derrida’s Of Grammatology?

About Philipp

Philipp Müller works in the IT industry and is academic dean of the SMBS. Author of "". Proud father of three amazing children. The views expressed in this blog are his own.

19. June 2009 by Philipp
Categories: Blog | Tags: , , , , , | 1 comment

One Comment


    Web 2.0 has some postmodernist ideas in its grammar, therefore, going back to the philosophy of Derrida, Bourdieu and others may make sense..
    …which leads me to another thought: isn’t the whole Web 2.0 debate constantly returning us to the things we/history knew before? Kevin Kelly wrote about neo-socialism, here comes neo-postmodernism? what’s next?