A Brief History of RT

From Isaac Mao
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RT is the short format of Re-tweeting, means share a tweet to one's social network but indicating the meme is created by someone already. I (@isaac) recalled the first use of RT in my early days using Twitter as a social media experiment. Eventually, it was adopted by millions of users....

The following two tweets in June,2008 are the first uses of "RT" as neat format of "Re-tweeting" in twitter sphere.

A Brief History of RT first two.png link1,link2

Actually, I have tried some other short format of Re-tweeting before this. Some others early twitter users, like @number5 used "retweeting/reposting" very early. My goal then was to create a very simple space-saving syntax, the same time everyone understands the meaning. It's why I tried "[ret]"(5 characters), "[RT]"(4), "RET"(3), and "RT:"(3 including the colon). Finally I consolidated RT for its being quite enough to express itself.

A Brief History of RT Previous.png link1,link2

I'm not sure who followed the very first "RT"s(maybe Twitter.com can help find out), but I believe it's a dawn of the real meaning of social media, which links and propagates memes borderlessly. Before an effective mechanism to link memes like this, the social media fabric can't be weaved up. From my observation, RT was adopted quickly by itself like other later memes. It then was used by many areas covering business, social and political events, even supporting scientific researches.

A Brief History of RT Science.png link

Later in 2009, Twitter.com officially developed its own RT function but not really fully aligned my goal. E.g. Official retweet function can't help users to comment over the "tweet", nor being able to repost his own old tweet by adding some new meanings. During the development of Twitter's official retweet function, the business didn't really consult end users too much. Maybe they never know who was the first one coined this short term(although it's easy job for them to investigate, which is supposedly a key feature of social media).

A Brief History of RT Official.png link

Frankly speaking, Twitter official RT didn't really replace RT totally till today. Instead, they are two functions coexist well to support different use cases, or scenarios. IMHO, Twitter.com should reconsdier how to adopt RT for a higher level. Interestingly, RT in later copycatted Chinese micro-blogging system was naturally inherited but redefined as "//" to separate quoted content and new quotes from current user. Since "RT" was referring as another meaning by some Chinese web users as "as indicated by the title" (Ru Ti).

Some Microblogging service, like Weibo.com, also support Google+ like re-sharing functions with each of the post. However till today, I still believe text based syntax has infinite potential for end users to remix and recreate somethings new. Some time later, someone also created some other syntax, like "MT' means "Modified retweet", and "TR" means "Translated retweet", etc. Maybe Twitter.com should learn something from grassroots for their future innovations.

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