Text Patterns - by Alan Jacobs

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

living in a tweet-only world

If that's your goal, you need this device, don't you?
Think about it. When people originally started talking about Twitter, the first thing they'd always mention was the 140-character limit that the service imposes on tweets. So short! Who can say anything in 140 lousy characters? Crazy!
And it's true that when a person who is used to longer forms of writing starts emitting tweets, keeping to just 140 characters can be a challenge. You actually have to think a bit about how to squeeze your thoughts to fit the format. It doesn't take long, though, for a twitterer to adapt to the new medium, and once you're fully adapted something funny happens. The sense that 140 characters is a constraint not only disappears, but 140 characters starts to seem, well, long. Your own tweets shrink, and it becomes kind of annoying when somebody actually uses the full 140 characters. Jeez, I'm going to skip that tweet. It's too long.
The same thing has happened, of course, with texting. Who sends a 160-character text? A 160-character text would feel downright Homeric. And that's what a 140-character tweet is starting to feel like, too.


  • It's as if God made Nicholas Carr so that he could look on any new development and tell us all how bad it is for human civilization.

    FYI, I think more-than-160 character texts are fairly routine among young people, those who've had cell-phones since their teens. And please, the reason no one sends long texts is that it's really hard -- and exhausting! -- to type them out on a cell-phone keyboard.

  • scritic, Im afraid ur showing ur age.

  • why doesn't carr limit that article to 140 chars, then!

  • Because it's an article and not a tweet? I thought it was a fairly brief and to the point article.

    People talk too much. It's good practice to think before you speak with the intention of cutting down on woordiness.

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