Randall Monroe's latest "What If?" explores the total number of possible English-language tweets:
Based on the rates of correct guesses—and rigorous mathematical analysis—Shannon determined that the information content of typical written English was around 1.0 to 1.2 bits per letter. This means that a good compression algorithm should be able to compress ASCII English text—which is eight bits per letter—to about 1/8th of its original size. Indeed, if you use a good file compressor on a .txt ebook, that’s about what you’ll find.
If a piece of text contains n bits of information, in a sense it means that there are 2n different messages it can convey. There’s a bit of mathematical juggling here (involving, among other things, the length of the message and the concept of unicity distance), but the bottom line is that it suggests there are on the order of about 2140×1.1≈2×1046 meaningfully different English tweets, rather than 10200 or 10800.
Now, how long would it take the world to read them all out?
Reading 2×1046 tweets would take a person nearly 1047 seconds. It’s such a staggeringly large number of tweets that it hardly matters whether it’s one person reading or a billion—they won’t be able to make a meaningful dent in the list in the lifetime of the Earth.
A sharp increase in right-wingers pretending to be black on Twitter as they troll people has been noted. “I’m used to trolling, and it doesn’t bother me, but the idea of a black woman selling her sons out to police with everything we know now was so sad to me that I couldn’t wrap my […]
BBC Asian Network raised a few eyebrows after tweeting “What is the right punishment for blasphemy?” While it’s clear from watching the video all the way through that BBC’s Shazia Awan is not taking a side, BBC Asia later apologized.
McD’s claims their official account was hacked, and the tweet has been deleted, but the internets are skeptical.
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