Following a tweet to its source: there’s got to be a better way

As Twitter has grown as a platform for passing along bits of news, I’ve noticed trends in the way organizations handle information. Here’s one thing I find annoying: the attribution of original sources.

Here’s just one example:

I saw this tweet from @mediaite

The link leads to this story by James Crugnale.

At the bottom of the story, I find this: (h/t TP via Chicagoist)

To decipher that for those who don’t understand blog-ese, Crugnale found the story at ThinkProgress (the first link), hence the h/t (hat tip, a form of acknowledgement), and ThinkProgress got the story from Chicagoist.

With me so far?

Now, tracing the story to Chicagoist, I find a large photo of a McD’s application and two paragraphs explaining some of the history of antagonism between the protesters and the Chicago BOT traders. At the bottom of that story, I find this: Found via Windy Citizen.

So I click the link, and there’s that photo again (nobody knows how to correct white balance in Photoshop?). There’s no text accompanying this post, except Via @DeProgrammer (It’s really apparently @DeProgrammer9)

And here we arrive at the (apparent) end of the hat tip trail. A photo posted on Oct. 31 with the caption “The board of trade thought it would be funny to litter McDonalds applications on our heads at #occupychi. #WTF”

So to recap, here’s the chain of origin of the Mediaite tweet as I followed it across the web:

Mediaite > ThinkProgress > Chicagoist > Windy Citizen > @DeProgrammer9

Or, in visual form, from point of origin to my twitter feed:

I understand why these outfits repeat the story with their own slight modification. And I give each of them props for giving some credit to the site where they found the information, which is more than many traditional media outlets do. But I wish there were a better way to follow the origin of a piece of news other than running down the rabbit trail of hat tips to find the source.

It would be nice if someone could invent a “package” tool that would let you include the entire digital trail in a single link or something like that.

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