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).
The comic is about the fact that many politicians see sms-speak not as a means to remain under a character limit, but as a dialect spoken by those who are "tech-savvy." As a result, many of said 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 does the opposite, showing that they do not understand why sms-speak is used at all.
The comic's joke is that modern teenagers, often stereotyped as lacking proper writing skills due to character limits on services such as SMS and twitter, can in many cases write better than politicians, who as discussed above use sms-speak unnecessarily. 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.
The opinion expressed by the teenager is not an uncommon one among people of that age, possibly due to Ron Paul's 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 of the sentences in the comic exceed 60 characters. Indeed, extending the sms-speak sentence to correct punctuation and removing abbreviations 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)
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.