Tag Archives: Twitter

Sassy and also substantial

Peter Sokolowsky

Peter Sokolowsky (Image Source: cbs.com)

We’re having “a national conversation about language.”

So said Peter Sokolowsky, a lexicographer for Merriam-Webster Dictionary, during an interview last week on CBS This Morning.

A national conversation about language? I don’t recall that ever happening before. If you ask me, it couldn’t come at a better time.

When the M-W Dictionary went online in 1996, Sokolowsky explained, it was the first time the dictionary’s curators could see what people were curious about. They’d never before been able to collect data about which words people were looking up.

In the past couple of years we’ve become hyper-aware of fake news, alternative facts, and the ways people use words to twist reality — or accuse others of twisting reality.

The watchers at M-W are doing their part: keeping close tabs on what people are looking up. When United Airlines sought volunteers to give up their seats and then had a passenger dragged off a plane, thousands of people went to the dictionary to look up the meaning of volunteer. Merriam-Webster’s Twitter account took note.Tweet from Merriam-Webster about the word volunteer

Increasingly, M-W’s tweets themselves have drawn attention. Continue reading

The Gettysburg Address in 140 characters or less

We live in the age of the short attention span. Sound bites rule the airwaves. More and more, if it can’t be expressed in 140 characters or less, nobody has the patience to listen to it.

Original text of the Gettysburg AddressInstead of 150 years ago today, I wonder what it would’ve been like if Lincoln had written the Gettysburg Address in the age of Twitter. Something like this, I imagine Continue reading

The corner pub: in our pockets, 24-7

A lone tweet arced across the sky and caught my attention:

Listening to a show on internet addiction. Is it the internet, or the stuff that’s on it? The medium, or the message?

I replied that it’s both the message and the medium: I think it’s some of both: appealing content, convenient packaging.

The Internet gives us two things that, as humans, we crave: inclusion — the sense of belonging to a community and being accepted — and information — keeping up with what’s going on in the community and in the larger world. Continue reading