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In this BBC piece, an IBM engineer on the Isle of Wight, shows off the 16th century thatched cottage that he’s wired with sensors and connected to Twitter. In the article that accompanies the video, he uses a term he’s apparently coined for objects that tweet: “tweetjects.”

I’m here to try and stage a lexicographical intervention. As the editor of Wired’s Jargon Watch column for 12 years and as a computer and Internet terms consultant for the Oxford American Dictionary, I’m asking, no I’m begging, please don’t call ‘em “tweetjects!” “Blobjects” was bad enough, but at least it made a kind of ham-handed sense. Then we had “blogjects.” I’m still trying to get that one out of my mouth. Now tweetjects? Sounds like a breakfast cereal that’s too good to taste any good. The brilliant American lexicographer (and CRAFT magazine contributor) Erin McKean says that we vote with our usage. Please people, vote “No” on this tortured term.

The Tweeting House: Twitter + Internet of Things

Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn is a freelancer writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture, including the first book about the web (Mosaic Quick Tour) and the Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Building Robots. He is currently working on a best-of collection of his writing, called Borg Like Me.


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Comments

  1. Frank says:

    That’s an IBM engineer, not Intel. I’m sure he won’t mind. NOT!

  2. Ookseer says:

    Something about Twitter seems to just set its self up for jokes. “Twits” (And worse if you swap a vowel) were bad enough. But “tweetjects” is too close to “rejects” to make immediate sense to me.

    So what’s better? I can live with blogjects. It scans better and I can pronounce it. I also know what it means without being told.

    But hey, why not make up a better new word? Communitronics. Tweetronics. Blogtrodes. Mobjects (Messaging Objects). BOWSER (BlOgging Widgets, Sensors, Electronics, and Robots). Net Aware Sensing Apparatus. (Whoops, that acronym is taken.)

  3. Gareth Branwyn says:

    Oops. Thanks for the catch, Frank. Fixed.

  4. Alex H says:

    “Tweetjects” sounds OK to me.

    If you are going to critise his suggestion, you should provide a suggestion you think is better!

  5. oskay says:

    >If you are going to critise his suggestion, you should provide a suggestion you think is better!

    Hmm. Good point. How about “Twings”?

    As in… “Things that tweet.” It’s more in line with “tweeps,” which is accepted.

    Or maybe twidgets…

  6. Gareth Branwyn says:

    Just because one doesn’t like a word doesn’t mean one has to coin a word to replace it. How absurd.

    I certainly like “twings” much better — fits with “the Internet of things” nicely, too.

    1. Alex H says:

      >Just because one doesn’t like a word doesn’t mean one has to coin a word to replace it. How absurd.

      It’s fine if you just say you don’t like it, but it is absurd if you say “stop using that word!” and don’t give a replacement.

  7. Andy L says:

    Perhaps the concept simply isn’t unique enough to require its own word?

    It’s not as if the general concept is new, there have been physical objects connected to the web, blogs, rss feeds, etc before. (And gopher, telnet, irc, etc before that.) This one just happens to use a service provided by Twitter, Inc.

    It’s probably OK not to coin a new word every single time we make something.

  8. Anonymous says:

    On the other hand, coining a terrible sounding term may help people to get tired of a concept faster. Yes, I’m a naysayer!

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