Taking a tweet in Twitter by someone else and resending it out through your network, often with an RT in front of it.

If you’ve been around Twitter long enough, you know that there was a time when retweets didn’t exist.


And probably many of us long for those days, a time when people in your Twitter network actually shared what they thought, rather than just repurposed someone else’s ideas.

Is your Twitter stream constipated with multiple RT’s of some idea, by the same people?  RT RT RT RT RT RT RT, yeah I get it, OK!!!!!!

Ah, but there are no rules…

But, eventually, you have to have your own ideas, don’t you?  

Retweeting gets you noticed.  Retweeting gets you followers.  Retweeting amplifies your presence on Twitter.  Retweeting associates your name with someone who actually might have an idea…

But habitual retweeting is not a sustainable behavior over time.

You see, original thought is still important.  In fact, original thought is even more important today in the everyone-connected-everyone shares-copy and RTpaste world of digital networks.

Ideas ultimately get you noticed.  Ideas matter.  Your ideas.  

So before you hit the R and T keys, think, what can I offer that is original, what can I offer that reflects what I believe in, what can I offer that challenges or extends the ideas of another?

How can I be original?




Posted via email from djakes’ posterous

5 Responses to “Words Matter: Retweet”
  1. Melanie says:

    Hrm. I have trouble with the assumption that RT is motivated by a desire to associate oneself with the tweeter or be get noticed. It happens for sure but let’s not paint everybody with the same brush. As for myself, the RT’s I share are usually links to content that I feel is of value to my network. Sometimes they are statements I wish to show support for. I tend to be more of a bookmarker (I bookmark via Diigo then hit “tweet” for some items) than a RT’er. Though in the past week or so I RT’d more because I was staying with somebody who didn’t have internet (just a wifi key that they take with them). So I was stuck with my iphone. My consumption of articles (given the reading issues on a tiny screen) dropped significantly so most of what I found was via my network. I think that’s another issue: how are people accessing twitter? My mobile issue changed the way I shared last week and I’m presuming it might have the same effect for others.

    Sharing “original” thoughts/insights is the ideal (for me). But it’s also worth considering that some folks don’t deign or wish to opine – particularly in public. For them, they may share their perspectives more indirectly via a RT. There are a lot of political reasons for doing so. One, for teachers, is risk. Being a teacher working in the public system comes with a lot of scrutiny. For many I know, it’s a lot easier to share another source – which doesn’t mean you agree or disagree with it – than say “I think that blah blah blah.” It’s important to consider that risk is relative to one’s teaching context. I know teachers in small, conservative places whose ideas and identities already put them at risk – in their jobs and community. They don’t enjoy the same privilege as some already established voice who is known, embraced and supported for their radical views.

    I am not a fan of prescribed uses for any technological tool. I resist that because it kills innovative or original uses. there’s also, often, an implicit value judgment involved “this is bad because” or “this is good because” or an assumed reason for use. And often (not in your case above), there’s some notion of “pro” or “best practices” implicit in the proposed practice or rule. I can always tell a rules-following, approval-seeking tweep from somebody who is using it authentically/originally. Some of my favourite people routinely spam twitter with full blown conversations, which I love. Not everybody appreciates that use.

    I remember a couple of years ago following Gary Stager. He sent out a load of tweets in a row. I think a lot of people were OK with that because he’s a respected figure, which is good and bad. Good because he models the kind of risk, challenge, reflexivity and transgression we need in the teaching profession. Bad because others define this as a “reward” for being important … i.e., it’s OK for important people to break rules but everybody else should shut up, play good and wait until they are deemed worthy. I see that attitude mostly in teachers (not always their fault, too) but less so from other groups I follow on Twitter (which is why I follow more freaks and geeks than teachers). In other groups, there’s no waiting around for permission. Partly because all my cool webby power holders, freelancing creatives and politico tweeps don’t hold jobs don’t require a police check, total public scrutiny, or hundreds of youth, parents and administrators evaluating and commenting on their every move :)

  2. Scott Meech says:

    I have to disagree with you on this David. The beauty of a RT is that you are telling others who care about your thoughts that you came across something of value to you. If someone is not taking the time to vet the tweet and they are just doing RT’s, than you have a point. The weakness of Twitter is that users tend to see the current stream and not the overall treasure that Twitter is. The best example of that is Dean Shareski’s thoughts on “Well This is Embarrassing by Dean at Shareski″.

    If one is going to take a shot at something on Twitter that relates to wasting other’s time that causes a loss of Twitter value, using Twitter as an instant messenger is more worthy of one’s disdain. Twitter is the on going “conference” so to speak for many of us. I say RT and cut down on the instant messenger use of Twitter. There is more value in a RT than there is in “sports updates”.

    Now, I RT and I socialize so I am the worst case scenario most likely! Just agreeing to disagree here. My real problem is that I have to learn how to stop sending DM’s as regular tweets first …

    • David Jakes says:

      I agree that retweets are valuable. I never said they weren’t. What I do get tired of is the rapid fire, non-stop RT behavior of some that don’t really offer much at all. As such, my frustration is more directed at myself for permitting these individuals into my network. However, no matter what, if you drop them, someone else will retweet them. And if you drop them, expect an email.

      As far as Twitter as treasure, there is no such thing. Twitter itself is an inanimate object, a simple collection of wires and boxes. People are the true treasure, and so are their thoughts. People make Twitter. Simply clogging the network with non-stop RT provides no value, in my opinion, and distracts from the essence of connections, and ironically, sharing ideas.

  3. Joe Bires says:

    When exactly was the last original thought you had and how can you be sure it was original? Ideas develop from the connections we form through our interactions with other people’s ideas. There are very few “original” ideas.

    RT also means I acknowledge that your tweet is important, that it strikes a cord, that it matters to me (I may or may not agree), but RT is an acknowledgement, a gesture.

    Just b/c an RT provides no value to you, doesn’t mean it doesn’t provide any value, b/c you really lose ownership of any idea that you put out there and your reward for losing that ownership is that the idea may gain a traction and spur further innovation. The ROI on twitter is profound as long as you embrace the long tail of it.

  4. DSJ says:

    @Joe Bires

    Why don’t you go back and re-read the post? You evidently failed to the first time. I’m talking about habitual retweeters, who do nothing but provide Tweetspam for the rest of us. They’re human retweet-bots.

    I’m not talking about a retweet which I find valuable in some cases. I’m talking about retweeting, RT RT RT RT.

    And I actually have original thoughts.

    ROI on Twitter. Please.

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