The Like, the Share and the (Re)Tweet as pre-configured links

Within my research I am currently focussing on the notion of links as the currency of the Web (Walker 2002) and to what extend that still holds up in Web 2.0. Together with Carolin Gerlitz from Goldsmith, University of London we are investigation to what extent the Like, the Share and the (re)Tweet are new types of web currencies? Michael Arrington claims on Techcrunch in 2009 that ReTweets Are The New Currency Of The Web. Looking into the technological differences between the currency of the link and the currency of social media (number of Likes/Shares/Tweets/Diggs etc) they are fundamentally both the same: they both refer to a hyperlink, or specifically a URL. However, while both are technically links, they are different types of links. I would consider the Like or (re)Tweet a pre-configured link. The link has already been made. The link is embedded within the button. In Web 1.0 links had to be manually created and in Web 2.0 social media platforms with their associated buttons (either offered by the platform itself or by people building on the platform) profit from pre-configured links.

14 thoughts on “The Like, the Share and the (Re)Tweet as pre-configured links

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  3. Absolutely, that is what I meant with “The link has already been made” but maybe I should have stated it more clearly. A short, concise blog post to get my ideas out of my head and into the open for feedback but could use some more contextualisation.

  4. I think the ease with which retweets and Likes are quantified makes them feel even more like currency. When the official Tweet button sits at the end of a blog post with a ‘0’ on the counter, it feels like an accusation: is this blog post worthless? Tweets of any sort, and retweets in particular, implicitly add value and “prove” that this blog post is part of “the conversation”!

    1. With the advent of social media the idea of “zero comments” is getting a companion with the 0 in the Twitter/Like counter. However, it seems that both differ slightly: a comment is an active involvement in a conversation, while a Tweet or a Like is a sign of recommended reading instead of a voice in a conversation. What do you think?

  5. Just thinking out loud, but I wonder if Zero Retweets or Zero Likes is the equivalent of Zero Comments when social media becomes as much about curation as it does about conversation? The sharing and recommending functions of social media – and the implicit value of your social networks as a filter – might be part of the way in which the value of these automated links is demonstrated.

    It’s a great question to explore – I’ll be interested to see what your project comes up with! :)

    1. Interesting notion of the “the implicit value of your social networks as a filter” which also relates to the value/or currency being internal to the network it belongs to. A Liked website will appear in a user’s Newsfeed but clicking the Like button will not reveal those who have Liked the site.

      Thanks for contributing to this discussion, the more questions raised the more complex and valuable questions are added to think about this issue.

  6. I am thinking about the emotional context and value of the different links. The handmade link is usually made in a blogpost or email-to-many where you can give any emotional value to the link. With the Like, Share and Retweet this work vanishes. Clicking a Like link gives a direction in your emotion but not any strength or context (How much do I like this, why do I like this). Sharing gives this a bit more but my feeling is many users are too lazy or hurried to write any context or meaning with the share. The Retweet, you can consider the old style and the new style. The oldskool RT gives you room to comment, follow up (albeit in 140 characters) where the new RT acts more as the Like button, you just forward without any context.

    Just some thoughts.

    1. Excellent contribution. I like how the Like has an implicit value or emotion embedded within the word itself with it indeed seems to diminish the amount of emotional input directed into the link.
      I think that in general both the link and the Like and the retweet all lack a context of the act of commenting or forwarding. Context cannot be added in the link itself, only in the commentary surrounding the link (adding comments in a retweet, or a Like).

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