Tthis tweet from Chris Messina is a great example of how metadata can be applied to short messages. I also frequently get questions from some of my friends on Facebook who aren’t in tech asking what the hell some of my tweets mean. So I figured I’d break down all of the information that Chris has crammed into 140 chars here, because it’s a lot.

1. “Overturned vehicle causes severe Golden Gate Bridge backup” This is the content of the tweet.
2. “” is a shortened link that takes the user to the story on the local news website. That story has live video of the bridge backup. The full URL is The short link saves 27 characters. Also, if you click to, you can see in real time how many people have clicked that link.
3. “/me Apparently we suck at bridges.” The /me indicates that what comes next is Chris’ commentary on the content.
4. “/via” The /via indicates that what comes next is where Chris got the information.
5. Because I was the source of the information Chris received, @ryankuder is me and links back to my Twitter account. The @ indicates a Twitter username.
6. “#now” is a hashtag. The # indicates a topic, in this case, now, meaning that the event that is being described is happening currently as opposed to in the past. If you click on #now, you’ll see all tweets using that hashtag.

So in 140 characters, Chris has told readers what’s happening, provided a link to live video, added some commentary, attributed his source with a link, and provided additional information about the nature of the tweet topic. Compare that information to a tweet that might have just said, “Crap. Golden Gate Bridge is backed up because of an accident.” It’s a pretty impressive tweet when you break it down.