Is a tweet a unique media format or just 140 characters?

Twitter is moving to ensure tweets are displayed consistently across the Web as their own media format, clearly staking their claim that it believes to have invented a new media format. But is it?


  1. New Twitter developer display requirements, formerly just guidelines, specify how developers using Twitter's APIs must show tweets in their applications. Those requirements take effect Oct. 5, before other API changes that Twitter is also making.
  2. For the record, Twitter has been unable to trademark the word "tweet" itself. However, this is because of other similar words already trademarked, and is not a reflection on whether a tweet itself is a unique invention. Below is part of their description of a tweet, click through to read the entire trademark application:
  3. Software and software applications to enable transmission, access, organization, and management of text messaging, instant messaging, online blog journals, text, weblinks, and images via the internet and other communications networks
  4. Unlike just text, there are specific actions associated with a tweet, which came from Twitter users inventing conventions themselves such as @replies and RT for "retweets" that were later incorporated into the application itself.  Tweets also are connected to a specific user with an avatar photo, profile and location, and have a unique timestamp and ID.
    However, Twitter was initially developed as a way to essentially send group SMS -- simple text.
  5. Several of those who replied to my question on Twitter agreed that in fact tweets are more than short bursts of text:
  6. One person waxed poetic:
  7. My Storify colleague Jeff weighed in with the opinion that the characteristics that come with a tweet make it its own object:
  8. And there was a Dr. Who reference too:
  9. One person asked if Twitter was simply a medium for transmitting different forms of media, rather than its own media format.