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Primal Tweet

It seems that Twitter just can’t handle the display of primal screams.

See, I had need to let loose a really good primal scream today.  Uncharacteristically, I decided to share it with the online world.  It seemed like the perfect method was to Twitter it.  And for me, the correct form of a primal scream is “AAAAAAAAA…”, so that’s what I Twittered.  Only, I filled the limit: I held down shift-A in Twitterrific until I’d generated 140 upper-case “A”s, no breaks, no punctuation.  Just, you know, primal screaming.


What didn’t occur to me was the fact that browsers are really bad at word-wrapping big long chunks of unbroken characters.  So my primal tweet seriously disrupted the layout of Twitter for me, and for all 768 people following me (at the time), as a layout table got super-expanded and the scream overflowed various and sundry other element boxes.

Oops.  Sorry ’bout that, folks.  Though I have to admit there is the part of me that’s secretly pleased: a primal scream should be disruptive.  And in some cases, the effect is unintentionally funny and appropriate: like the individual display of that tweet, where the scream runs right out of the “text balloon” and just keeps going and going and going.  The failure states become extra levels of commentary on what’s been said.  Screamed.  They accidentally reinforce the intended message instead of subverting it.

Honestly, that’s kind of cool.  I find it all the more delightful because I didn’t intend any of that to happen.  I was just blowing off 140 characters worth of steam.

As for why I felt the need to scream so primally, odds are very high you’ll hear all about it tomorrow.

14 Responses»

    • #1
    • Comment
    • Mon 15 Oct 2007
    • 1420
    Laura Whitehead wrote in to say...

    Just loved your post about Twitter! I’m a mad twitterer too – but great to read others scream primally too on there!

    • #2
    • Comment
    • Mon 15 Oct 2007
    • 1420
    Jason Friesen wrote in to say...

    Figured you’d be posting an explanation. As usual, Meyer does not disappoint.

    • #3
    • Comment
    • Mon 15 Oct 2007
    • 1442
    Bobby Kircher wrote in to say...

    The individual display of the tweet is friggin hilarious. :)

    • #4
    • Comment
    • Mon 15 Oct 2007
    • 1449
    m!les wrote in to say...

    I saw the tweet in my Twitterific, and didn’t quite understand it. But upon going to, I thought that, surely, it was a remark on Twitter not having bullet-proof CSS. But it wasn’t. Your real reason was good, too.

    • #5
    • Comment
    • Mon 15 Oct 2007
    • 1457
    André Luís wrote in to say...

    Well, I can say that Netvibes passed the test. It didn’t show the entire primal scream, but it didn’t break the layout. :D Yay!

    • #6
    • Comment
    • Mon 15 Oct 2007
    • 1621
    Dan Baroody wrote in to say...

    It’s nice to know that the CSS jedi could bring twitter to its knees.

    • #7
    • Comment
    • Mon 15 Oct 2007
    • 1808
    Alex Vincent wrote in to say...

    Your attention please… please yell if I have your attention.

    • #8
    • Comment
    • Tue 16 Oct 2007
    • 0957
    Christopher Hester wrote in to say...

    Flickr has also been known to spill over when long texts of unbroken characters are used for photo titles. Sometimes I also see text from one title flowing on top of an adjacent title.

    Do browsers suck at not automatically hyphenating words too long to fit a given space? Or do the programmers suck for not allowing for this problem when they coded their input forms? These are the questions we need answers to!

    • #9
    • Comment
    • Tue 16 Oct 2007
    • 1315
    Angelo wrote in to say...

    It’s interesting how different services choose to handle this and other bulletproofing concerns.

    Pownce for example doesn’t break the page layout, it just hides the overflow. The AIR interface shows the whole string, and wraps it appropriately.

    • #10
    • Comment
    • Tue 16 Oct 2007
    • 1714
    Rob wrote in to say...

    Would word-wrap: break-word;mot solve it?

    • #11
    • Comment
    • Wed 17 Oct 2007
    • 1500
    jsutcliffe wrote in to say...


    Just testing ;)

    • #12
    • Comment
    • Fri 19 Oct 2007
    • 1032
    Chris Hester wrote in to say...

    Is there a max-word-length command in CSS? Eg:


    The above code would specify that no words would be longer than 70 characters. If so, a hyphenation or overflow rule would also be needed.

    • #13
    • Comment
    • Fri 19 Oct 2007
    • 1241
    Ray wrote in to say...

    fitzage likes to break twitter all the time. He’s been doing it for months now. Nana-Nana-Boo-Boo

    • #14
    • Comment
    • Fri 20 Jun 2008
    • 2026
    wes wrote in to say...

    jsutcliffe, your tonsils look fine to me. ;)

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