Unicode (used creatively) makes your Tweets go further

I’m not exactly a power-Tweeter, so I can’t say I have the need for a tool that stretches Twitter’s 140-character limit.

Still, I get a kick out of Maxitweet.

To understand what it does, here’s an example.

I entered the following text: 149 characters.

Call me Ishmael. Some years ago–never mind how long precisely–having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore

And Maxtweet squeezed it down to 136 characters:

Caǁ me ʪhmael.Some years ago–never m㏌d how▕ong precێely–hav㏌gl计ᅱe or no money ㏌ my purse,and noth㏌g particular to interest me onshore

Those funny looking characters interspersed are pulled from Unicode’s wide pallet — such as ێ (ARABIC LETTER YEH WITH SMALL V). This character was used in place of “is.”

Other substitute characters used include “计”, “ʪ”, “㏌”, and “.” (I hope they all appear on your browser. Note that this blog is in Unicode but you may not have the right fond needed to display the characters)

Normally when I see this type of character substitution I think of phishers creating bogus domain names. But for once this traditionally nefarious technique has found a recreational application.

Here’s how the Tweet came across on on my iPhone:

maxtweet_twitter

Go Unicode!

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Author: John Yunker

John co-founded Byte Level Research in 2000 and is author of The Web Globalization Report Card. He also co-founder of Ashland Creek Press.

2 thoughts on “Unicode (used creatively) makes your Tweets go further”

  1. Nice idea, but wouldn’t this totally mess up Twitter’s search function (and related useful stuff such as Twitterfall)? On the other hand I suppose using ad hoc abbrvtns would have the same effect…

  2. I guess this fits in with the idea that twitter is really only for people to say something, but not for anybody to actually read anything. Let’s think about accessibility and what a screen reader will do with this. I’m wondering if inserting an RTL character in between will cause a surprise somewhere.

    Of course, whereas all-ASCII messages can be encoded quite small in cell phones, anything with this character repertoir will actually end up being substantially longer, apart from device support in terms of fonts likely to be a worse than on a desktop.

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