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kottke.org posts about Twitter

Turn your Twitter stream into your friends’ linkblog

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 23, 2012

A few weeks ago, Twitter added an option to search the tweets of only the people you follow. This is useful for several different reasons (try searching for [recent pop culture key phrase] to see what I mean) but for those who use Twitter primarily to find cool links to read/watch, it’s an unexpected gift. To view your Twitter stream filtered to include only tweets containing links, just do a search for “http”. Simple but powerful.

ps. Who knows if they’re interested in this or not, but by a) making their entire archive available to search and b) allowing people to limit their search to their friends + 1-2 degrees of separation, Twitter could significantly better the search experience offered by Google et al in maybe 25-30% of all search cases. This is what Google is attempting to do with Google+ but Twitter could beat them to the punch.

Update: The search above, while quick, is also dirty in that it will include non-link tweets like “My favorite protocol is HTTP”. The official Twitter way to is to use “filter:links”, which will avoid that problem.

You can also filter out the links from your Twitter stream by negating the http search (this no longer works…), but you’ll have to wade through all the @replies.

The history of Twitter’s @reply

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 10, 2012

Evan Henshaw digs through some ancient tweets to find the first usage of the now-ubiquitous @reply on Twitter.

The @reply was created on Thanksgiving day, November 23rd, 2006. One wonders if this was the first case of geeks using twitter to avoid their family on thanksgiving.

See also the first use of hashtags on Twitter. It’s funny that so many of the things that make Twitter compelling weren’t actually invented by Twitter but by the users and developers.

Update: Garrett Murray finds an even earlier usage.

Twitter introduces the Innovator’s Patent Agreement

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 18, 2012

Twitter has developed something called the Innovator’s Patent Agreement, which is an agreement between the company and its employees that their patents won’t be used in offensive lawsuits (as opposed to defensive lawsuits).

The IPA is a new way to do patent assignment that keeps control in the hands of engineers and designers. It is a commitment from Twitter to our employees that patents can only be used for defensive purposes. We will not use the patents from employees’ inventions in offensive litigation without their permission. What’s more, this control flows with the patents, so if we sold them to others, they could only use them as the inventor intended.

This is a significant departure from the current state of affairs in the industry. Typically, engineers and designers sign an agreement with their company that irrevocably gives that company any patents filed related to the employee’s work. The company then has control over the patents and can use them however they want, which may include selling them to others who can also use them however they want. With the IPA, employees can be assured that their patents will be used only as a shield rather than as a weapon.

Red Hat has had a similar policy in place for many years.

Twitter has patent for “pull to refresh”

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 27, 2012

Loren Brichter invented the “pull to refresh” interface mechanism for Tweetie, a Twitter app he eventually sold to Twitter. Apparently he patented the idea sometime before the sale, so Twitter now owns the patent.

pull to refresh

Paul Haddad of Tapbot says that Twitter won’t enforce the patent but, gosh, where have we heard that before?

Update: A reader pointed out that this is not a patent…it’s a patent application that hasn’t even been reviewed yet. But it’s clearly a novel invention and most likely will be accepted when reviewed. (thx, mike)

The Twitter version of Marclay’s The Clock

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 19, 2012

Chirp Clock finds tweets containing the current time and displays them on the site.

Chirp Clock

Nearly every second, a user on Twitter tweets about what time it is. It could be groaning about waking up, to telling a friend when to meet, to an automated train scheduler altering when the next one is coming. By searching Twitter for the current time we get a tiny glimpse of how active and far reaching the social network is.

See also The Clock by Christian Marclay. (via @noahkalina)

Ten things about new Twitter

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 09, 2011

Some good thoughts about the new version of Twitter from Dan Frommer.

This is the beginning of Jack Dorsey’s real vision for Twitter combined with Dick Costolo’s vision for a real-time social advertising product. The main components: writing and Tweets, obviously; having conversations with other people; discovering what’s happening in the world through Twitter; and seeing a promoted message from brands here and there.

Give a man a bank and he can rob the world

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 01, 2011

Over the past two days, I’ve seen this clever riff on the “give a man a fish” parable pop up over and over again on various social sites, primarily Twitter and Stellar:

Give a man a gun and he can rob a bank. Give a man a bank and he can rob the world.

The earliest instance of this text I could find on Twitter was posted by @Bonoboism on Nov 28. Because it was an @reply, the original post was not widely retweeted but over the next day or so, it was posted by dozens of other people without attribution and some of those knock-off posts got hundreds and even thousands of retweets. Without looking too hard, I found tweets by @ilegal, @MrsSelfDestrukt, @owenderby, @sickipediabot, @HipstaGangsta, @ladydebidebz, @tickly, and @yourrhighness_. Tweets like this have a tendency to get appropriated by others without attribution…the temptation to appear that pithy is just too great, I guess.

World War II, tweeted in realtime

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 11, 2011

The @RealTimeWWII Twitter account is tweeting the events of World War II as they happened 72 years ago. A sample tweet from a few hours ago:

Germany has announced (again) that it will respect the neutrality of Belgium & Holland; “No German troops will enter the Low Countries”

Meanwhile back in 1668, Samuel Pepys is having trouble with his wife because he had a dalliance with the maid.

To dinner. The girle with us, but my wife troubled thereat to see her, and do tell me so, which troubles me, for I love the girle.

Multi-touch finger paintings

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 30, 2011

Ha! Evan Roth is selling a series of “multi-touch finger paintings” called Open Twitter, Check Twitter, Close Twitter. The paintings are made by placing tracing paper over an iPhone screen while he checks Twitter with a painted finger.

Open Twitter, Check Twitter, Close Twitter

Original Twitter homepage

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 14, 2011

original Twitter design

Or at least a very early version. From humble beginnings…

ps. Here’s an early Facebook screenshot, an early Google homepage, and Yahoo’s homepage circa 1994, and an early screencap of Tumblr’s dashboard.

Update: If you look at the screenshot closely, there’s a familiar name at the top of the “What your friends…” box: Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom (his Twitter user id is 380…meaning that he was one of the first 400 people to sign up for the service).

Shaq retires!

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 01, 2011

Whoa, I think Shaquille O’Neal just announced his retirement on Twitter:

im retiring Video: http://bit.ly/kvLtE3 #ShaqRetires

A look back at the Magic (and Lakers and Celtics and Cavs and Heat and Suns and Fighting Tigers):

Twitter sparklines

posted by Jason Kottke   May 11, 2011

I’ve been seeing a few mini bar charts (aka sparklines) pop up on Twitter in the past few days. Like this one:

Twitter sparklines

Last year Alex Kerin built an Excel-to-Twitter sparkline generator that uses Unicode block elements for the tiny charts and now media outlets like the WSJ are using it to publish data to Twitter:

Twitter Sparklines 1

Anil Dash has a nice post on how the WSJ came to use Kerin’s idea. Here are a few more favorites “sparktweets” (1, 2, 3, 4, 5):

Twitter Sparklines 2
 

Twitter Sparklines 3
 

Twitter Sparklines 4
 

Twitter Sparklines 5
 

Twitter Sparklines 6

Giving our feelings a name

posted by Tim Carmody   May 03, 2011

At least two popular quotations circulating on Twitter and Facebook in the wake of the killing of Osama bin Laden are misattributed. By what I guess is chance, they happen to express opposing (but nuanced and appealing) sentiments:

“I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy.” - Martin Luther King, Jr

“I’ve never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure.” - Mark Twain

The Fake Mark Twain quote has a pretty straightforward story. It’s a slightly altered version of a quote by lawyer/orator/evolution & civil rights hero Clarence Darrow:

All men have an emotion to kill; when they strongly dislike some one they involuntarily wish he was dead. I have never killed any one, but I have read some obituary notices with great satisfaction.

(Note: That’s from Darrow’s autobiography, The Story of My Life. Wired’s story above linked to Wikiquote, so I thought I’d pull it from Google Books at least.)

Darrow is still pretty famous, but not Mark Twain famous. And especially in the truncated version, the quip sounds like the sort of thing that Mark Twain might say.

Easy mistake - and when the line fits how we might feel at a given moment, and the author fits our moral/intellectual identity, it becomes a natural quote to pass around.

The story behind the Fake Martin Luther King quote is a little bit more complicated. Megan McCardle was the first to flag it as suspect. Then people began to notice that while the version above was making the rounds on Twitter, a longer version on Facebook paired it with an extended quote that was genuine MLK:

I will mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” ~Martin Luther King Jr

The real quote (beginning with “Returning hate for hate”) is from MLK’s book of sermons Strength to Love.

And the context really is about why you have to love your enemy. In the same book, too, is an essay called “The death of evil upon the seashore,” which has this not totally unrelated quote about the escape of the Israelites from Egypt by crossing the Red Sea:

The meaning of this story is not found in the drowning of the Egyptian soldiers, for no one should rejoice at the death or defeat of a human being. Rather, this story symbolizes the death of evil and of inhuman oppression and unjust exploitation.

So, again, it’s the kind of thing that sounds like something Martin Luther King, Jr might say — even though he didn’t say it.

At some point, someone deduced what must have happened. The real King quote (about returning hate for hate) must have gotten paired with the King-esque quote/paraphrase (about not rejoicing in the death of an enemy). Somewhere in circulating on Facebook, the whole thing got attributed to King, then jumped to Twitter, where the first line got separated from the genuine quote, re-attributed to King, then passed around from there.

It turns out that this is exactly what happened. The actual source of the quote (with the screenshot to prove it) is actually Jessica Dovey.

This is where it gets a little confusing. Salon’s Drew Grant thought she had tracked the misquote’s jump to Twitter to magician/author Penn Jillette. Grant wrote a story about how Jillette had made up the quote, possibly as a deliberate prank.

Grant said Jillette had admitted to inventing the quote. But Jillette’s Twitter apology doesn’t really seem to say that:

I checked a long quote from MLK’s “Strength to love”1963 that spoke to some of my feelings, then I cut and pasted an altered hunk. Sorry.

Jillette’s actually disclaiming authorship here - he says he “cut and pasted” it. But people are still arguing that he’s claiming credit and complaining that he won’t comment.

One of the many things that fascinated Freud about jokes was that they passed around from person to person without an author. This is why they were interesting - they showed the unconscious uncensored, in public. (This is a big part of what Wit and its Relation to the Unconscious is about.)

When we (mis)attribute a joke or quote, we’re doing something different: we’re giving our unconscious an author, and leaning on the author’s authority. Just like with jokes, it’s an acceptable way to let our nervous feelings out, without having to completely own them ourselves. We just co-sign.

In the spirit of Freud, here are some of the best MLK-misquote jokes currently going around on Twitter (with anonymity of the jokesters preserved):

“You dummies will retweet anything with my name.” - Martin Luther King, Jr.

There is a Martin Luther King Jr. cookie recipe making its way around the web! It does not taste good. DO NOT MAKE IT.

“Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. will have some good ideas.” - Theodore Roosevelt

“War is a giant dishwasher full of tiny elephants but the soap is motor oil and the dishes are pee” -Martin Luther King, Jr

“Scrambled eggs, side of home fries, and a light and sweet coffee, thanks.” —Martin Luther King Jr. (in a diner)

“Luke. I am your father.” - Martin Luther King, Jr.

(Actually, Penn Jillette wrote all of these jokes. That guy’s amazing.)

Update: Ivan Cavero Belaunde may have identified the source of the Twain/Darrow misquote — a 2006 blog post with Darrow’s quote next to another on the same theme by Twain:

Clarence Darrow
I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure.
Mark Twain
I didn’t attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.

Ivan adds that “that link was until yesterday the #1 Google result for the phrase ‘I have read some obituaries with great pleasure’.”

So odds are pretty good that someone half-remembered the Darrow quote, did a quick Google search for attribution, saw the result with Twain’s name at the end, and went for it (maybe without even clicking through).

The real Twitter story?

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 14, 2011

Business Insider has a pair of articles about what they say is the real story about the founding of Twitter. The first is a general outline of the unofficial history of the company versus what you generally hear from the company and its founders.

Glass insists that he is not Twitter’s sole founder or anything like it. But he feels betrayed that his role has basically been expunged from Twitter history. He says Florian Webber doesn’t get enough credit, either.

“Some people have gotten credit, some people haven’t. The reality is it was a group effort. I didn’t create Twitter on my own. It came out of conversations.”

“I do know that without me, Twitter wouldn’t exist. In a huge way.”

The second is an interview with Noah Glass, who many people who were there at the beginning of the service consider one of the true cofounders of Twitter.

Jack [Dorsey] was someone who was one of the stars of the company and I got the impression he was unhappy with what he was working on. He was doing a lot of cleanup work on Odeo. He and I had become pretty close friends and were spending time together.

He started talking to me about this idea of status and how he was really interested in status. He developed this bicycle messenger status system in the past. I was trying to figure out what it was he found compelling about it. At the same time, we were looking at ‘groups’ models and how groups were formed and put a couple things together to look at this idea of status and to look at this idea of grouping and it sort of hit me - the idea for this product. This thing that would be called Twitter, what it would look like. This ad hoc grouping mechanism with non-realtime status updates all based on mobile phones.

There was a moment when I was sitting with Jack and I said, “Oh, I do see how this could really come together to make something really compelling.” We were sitting on Mission St. in the car in the rain. We were going out and I was dropping him off and having this conversation. There was a moment where it all fit together for me.

We went back to Odeo and put together a team. A very separate working team, mostly it was myself, Jack, and Florian [Webber], a contractor. [Florian] was working from Germany at the time.

See also Trouble @Twitter. (via @anildash)

Customer service on Twitter

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 02, 2011

Here’s how you do it well, courtesy of Zappos (of course). Yesterday I tweeted:

I think my wife is having an affair with someone named “Zappos”. He sends her a package at least every third day. I am on to you, Mr Zappos!

Almost immediately, Zappos’ customer service Twitter account replied:

@jkottke I’m sorry sir, but our relationship with your wife is strictly professional.

Great, right? A company that gets the joke and participates meaningfully in an actual conversation with a full awareness of the context.

Here’s how not to do it, courtesy of United Airlines. Mena Trott, a co-founder of Six Apart, had her flight to NYC randomly cancelled on Monday night by “a robot”. (They actually blamed it on a robot!) In a series of three tweets, Mena voiced her displeasure:

Thanks @unitedairlines for randomly canceling my miles booked ticket for tonight, taking the miles & not letting me rebook for lack of miles

And then hanging up on me after I waited for an hour! I hate you @unitedairlines

Apparently the automated voice recognition system can’t tell what I’m saying through my tears @unitedairlines #IhateYouSoMuch

Reply from @unitedairlines? Nothing. But then while on her rebooked flight the next morning, Mena tweets sarcastically:

Thanks to @unitedairlines I can finally watch that Frasier episode I missed in 1994.

And unbelievably, @unitedairlines replied, pouring burning acid into Mena’s obviously still-tender wound:

@dollarshort “…I hear the blues a-callin’, Tossed salad and scrambled eggs..”

That is some serious customer service tone deafness right there. It would be easy to blame whatever social media jockey they’ve got manning the Twitter account for the faux pas, but obviously United customer communication problems run deeper (and originate higher up the pay scale) than that.

How to write a Twitter bio

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 18, 2011

Alex Blagg, social media 2.0 ideator, shares 15 top tips for crafting the perfect Twitter bio.

5. If you go out to bars like every night of the week, you’re not alcoholic. You’re a Foursquare Ambassador.

6. You can add “-ista” to the end of literally any word to make yourself sound approximately 47 times more stylish and savvy. (ex. Digitalista or Barista or Unemployista)

Expiring Netflix Watch Instantly alerts

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 15, 2011

queuenoodle is a Twitter account that will tell you when movies expire from Netflix Watch Instantly so you can, uh, watch them. Brought you by Twitter’s media pastamaker, Robin Sloan.

The hilarious everything bagel

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 26, 2011

If I didn’t know any better, I’d have thought Twitter was built specifically for the purpose of cracking wise about the lack of everything on the everything bagel. In recent months, several tweetists have taken to site to complain in often amusing fashion:

Come on, Everything Bagels, who you tryin’ to fool? You got like 6 seasonings on there. That’s a lot, but it ain’t everything.
@patrickmarkryan

Hey everything bagel, you don’t have everything on you, so shut the fuck up.
@ihatejeffbaker

This “everything bagel” is great. Has onions, poppy seeds, garlic, cheese, q-tips, Greenland, fear, sandals, wolves, teapots, crunking…
@johnmoe

You call this an everything bagel?! Where are the french fries & the pizza & the pot brownie & the Taco Bell fire sauce?!
@ronniewk

Flossing after an everything bagel is important b/c as the name implies, you don’t just have *something* in your teeth, you have every thing.
@phillygirl

Last time I had an everything bagel I got poppy seeds, Mira Sorvino, and Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit all over my shirt.
@dwineman

The title “everything bagel” is a gross exaggeration.
@avphibes

The “everything bagel” really only has like three things. Just what I want for breakfast. Lies.
@missrftc

You might want to scale back on calling yourself an “everything bagel.” I mean, right away I can see there are no M&M’s on here.
@friedmanjon

Aaand that’s about all there is to say about the everything bagel.

50 Cent moves markets

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 10, 2011

The share price for stock in H&H Imports, Inc. went up 290% between the close of market on Friday to the end of the day today. The reason for the move? Entertainer/investor 50 Cent, who owns a portion of the tiny company, tweeted all weekend about how enthusiastic he was about the company’s success. (He also appeared on CNBC.) By one calculation, 50 made $10 million with those tweets.

Josh Groban sings Kanye’s tweets

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 05, 2011

This might be even funnier than the Kanye Jordan Twitter acct.

Cybersanta is making a list

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 10, 2010

The cybersanta Twitter account searches for tweets containing the phrase “I want a ______” and replies. Like so:

Cybersanta

(via clusterflock)

The Twitter Hulks

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 06, 2010

There are an increasing number of Twitter accounts written as if The Incredible Hulk were passionate about topics other than anger and smashing. Here’s a sampling of the Twitter Hulks and their tweets.

FEMINIST HULK: “TRICK TO SMASHING GENDER BINARY: MAKE SURE IT NOT SIMPLY BREAK INTO TWO NORMATIVE PIECES. HULK CREATE GENDERQUEER DEBRIS!”

DRUNK HULK: “CAREFUL HOW NAME YOU CHILD! MONTANA LAST NAME GET HER DISNEY SHOW! MONTANA FIRST NAME GET HER PORN CAREER! MORE YOU KNOW!”

BUDDHIST HULK: “HULK SPEND DAY SMASHING BARRIERS TO AWAKENING. HULK HEART OVERFLOW WITH JOY.”

Cross-dressing Hulk: “HULK WEIGH OVER 1 TONNE. HULK KISS ANYONE HULK WANTS TO. HULK WORRIES ABOUT EDITORIAL OVERSIGHT AT MARIE CLAIRE.”

Film Crit HULK: “HULK WATCH LAURA(1944) FOR UMPTEENTH TIME THIS WEEKEND. HULK REALIZE HULK SEE LOTS OF OTTO PERMINGER IN SCORSESE.”

BARTENDER HULK: “WHY YOU THINK HULK TAKING YOUR ORDER?? IS IT CUZ HULK NOT FACING YOU? OR CUZ HULK TALKING TO SOMEONE ELSE? OR CUZ HULK MAKING OTHER DRINK??”

Lit-Crit Hulk: “HULK SMASH TREND OF HIP NOVELISTS WRITE ‘LINKED’ SHORT STORIES AND CALL IT NOVEL. YOU WANT WRITE SHORT STORIES, FINE. IT NOT A FUCKING NOVEL”

Editor Hulk: “HULK LIKE OXFORD COMMA VERY MUCH. HULK WANT TO DATE, BUT OXFORD COMMA ONLY GO OUT IN GROUPS OF THREE OR MORE.”

GRAMMAR HULK: “HULK GET INVITATION THAT SAY ‘PLEASE RSVP BY RESPONDING.’ HULK’S RAGE MITIGATED BY OPPORTUNITY TO WEAR TINY PURPLE TUXEDO PANTS!”

Kanye West + Tracy Jordan

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 27, 2010

One of last week’s top tweets made this observation:

Put “Liz Lemon,” in front of Kanye’s tweets and he becomes Tracy Jordan. “Liz Lemon, I wonder what happened to my antique aquarium.”

Tom Armitage knocked up a Kanye Jordan Twitter account so you don’t even need to work at imagining. The results are often sublime. (via jimray)

Interview with the @BPGlobalPR guy

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 13, 2010

Remember the @BPGlobalPR Twitter account that sharply lampooned BP’s response to their oil disaster in the Gulf? Mat Honan has an interview with the person responsible. (And it’s not Mike Monteiro.)

The idea was mine, and all the long form writing, talks, and speeches were me. But a lot of tweets — a lot of my favorite tweets — weren’t mine. I edited and maybe tweaked some of them, but there’s no way I would have been able to come up with the quality or volume of jokes without a good team. We had about 15 people, and those writers deserve a lot of the credit. Some contributed every day. My dad did one, even. I sent him a message and told him about it, and I was like, “fuck, I’m not sure what he’ll think.” But he responded immediately with a joke.

New celeb status item: your own servers at Twitter

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 08, 2010

From a tweet by Dustin Curtis quoting a Twitter employee:

At any moment, Justin Bieber uses 3% of our infrastructure. Racks of servers are dedicated to him.

When will references to “all my racks at Twitter” make it into pop/rap songs?

Intimate strangers

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 03, 2010

Susan Orlean writes about the lopsided intimacy of big cities and social media.

Life in Manhattan is like living inside a gigantic Twitter stream. What you get to know about people you don’t know simply by accidental adjacency is astonishing.

Insider tweeting

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 02, 2010

Commodity traders are following farmers on Twitter, hoping for clues about crop forecasts and such.

Last week Grisafi started receiving tweets from European farmers saying the weather was hotter and drier than weather reports indicated. He’d been short the wheat market on the assumption that prices would fall. After reading the tweets, however, he realized the commodity might be in shorter supply than the market expected and got out of his position, avoiding a loss as prices rose.

kottke.org Twitter account

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 18, 2010

This is a friendly reminder that kottke.org has a dedicated Twitter account. You can follow @kottke to keep up with all the posts on the site.

Two recent changes: 1. Twitter is going to shut off basic authentication to their API in less than two weeks. I switched @kottke to OAuth early this afternoon. 2. I am now using a local URL shortener to shorten links posted to @kottke. So, for instance, http://kottke.org/x/4oxg points to http://kottke.org/10/08/basic-rules-of-arithmetic-may-be-broken. Any bugs, lemme know.

(Oh, and my personal Twitter account is @jkottke.)

Gurus, ninjas, and experts

posted by Aaron Cohen   Aug 03, 2010

whatthefuckismysocialmediastrategy.com is certainly a veritable and powerful social media strategy generator for any business. If you need a social media strategy, you should start here before interviewing folks. You know, to make yourself conversant in the lingo. That said:

Yo, whatthefuckismysocialmediastrategy.com, I’m really happy for you, I’mma let you finish but howtousetwitterformarketingandpr.com had one of the best snarky social media single serving site takedowns of all time. One of the best snarky social media single serving site takedowns of all time!

The jumper colon

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 14, 2010

Over at The Millions, Conor Dillon notes the increase in use of colon in contemporary journalism, including a new kind of colon called the jumper colon, “the Usain Bolt of literature”.

For grammarians, it’s a dependent clause + colon + just about anything, incorporating any and all elements of the other four colons, yet differing crucially in that its pre-colon segment is always a dependent clause.

For everyone else: its usefulness lies in that it lifts you up and into a sentence you never thought you’d be reading by giving you a compact little nugget of information prior to the colon and leaving you on the hook for whatever comes thereafter, often rambling on until the reader has exhausted his/her theoretical lung capacity and can continue to read no longer.

Bottom line: the 140 character limit of Twitter and general move towards concision in online writing is credited for the rise of the jumper colon.