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140 Character Thought Organizer or Conversation Killer?
incrediBILL




msg:4641426
 4:45 am on Jan 31, 2014 (gmt 0)

IMO, those that use Twitter get to learn the basics of what entrepreneur's call an "elevator pitch" where you have the length of time to describe your product in the duration of a brief elevator ride. Twitter gives you slightly less time and space to express yourself but I contend it helps sharpen your communication skills.

Lots of people, especially marketers, like to ramble on in buzz speak until people's eyeballs roll back into their sockets. However, you can't ramble in 140 characters, you must be succinct and to the point. If you use more than one tweet to make your point you risk a disjointed message with the meaning lost in the twitter stream.

Therefore, Twitter makes people think more about what they say so they can convey as much information as possible in as little space as possible meaning overall our communication skills, being able to convey thoughts without boring people to death, may be improving thanks to such technology.

Thoughts?

 

bill




msg:4641469
 8:01 am on Jan 31, 2014 (gmt 0)

It also has the effect of destroying the spelling of our youth. They abbreviate and use short misspellings so much that a lot of them are becoming common. IMHO LOLz l8tr

TomMitchel




msg:4641512
 11:07 am on Jan 31, 2014 (gmt 0)

Lolz Bill, ur gr8.

I do agree it;s taking away a conversational element.

It's obviously working though, short form content, it is a convenient way of pushing a message. Personally I think shorter is better.

What interests me too is it's origin, the 140 character text messages that we used to have to send. :)

SevenCubed




msg:4641604
 6:50 pm on Jan 31, 2014 (gmt 0)

Rare are the threads that rustle me into logging in to participate these days. This one is great!

Over the years here I have not been very critical of Twitter even though I didn't use it until recently. I may have, in the past, casually dismissed it as "impossible to have a meaningful conversation". In fact without looking it up (because it's so difficult to find anything via search these days) I think it was almost exactly those words.

I'm actually enjoying it now. It is a very REAL challenge to present a complex topic, in wholeness, in 140 characters or less.

It especially becomes a challenge when forcing myself to use whole words including punctuation. No shortcuts. Except maybe in rare instances, I don't even substitute "& for and".

If you use more than one tweet to make your point you risk a disjointed message with the meaning lost in the twitter stream.

True. But. This boy likes to ramble at times. So, on a few occasions when 140 characters just won't cut it I tag the end of a series of continuation tweets with 1/4, 2/4, 3/4, 4/4 for that very reason. I've only had one thought once that consumed 7 tweets, d'oh! I do send out most tweets with 140 characters consumed, exactly, no left-overs.

I've been actively tweeting for a few months now, I'm up to about 360+ tweets as I type this. What I'm enjoying most is nothing is off topic! What a playground :)

I was just debating someone about an hour ago who says "I", "me", "my" are illusions and we don't exist. Being a middle path fellow I'm challenging his/her ability to justify it. I sent out the last volley and haven't heard back yet so I anticipate he/she is going to be digging very deep on the return. I luv the challenge!

Beyond sending off my own thoughts into the Twitterverse I also use it almost exclusively now for discovery of new topics off interest, or to dig deeper into ones I already enjoy.

These days search engines have become useless (IMHO) for discovery. I hope now that Twitter has become a public company they don't blow it by loosing the balance.

Samizdata




msg:4641614
 7:56 pm on Jan 31, 2014 (gmt 0)

Twitter makes people think more about what they say

In an ideal world, perhaps (and in a few cases certainly).

But the mass of evidence does not appear to support the proposition.

The medium that made people think more about what they said was the telegram.

Paying by the word concentrated the mind very effectively.

...

lucy24




msg:4641627
 9:30 pm on Jan 31, 2014 (gmt 0)

Thought killer. Not all opinions and concepts can be expressed in 140 characters-- even allowing for severe injury to grammar and orthography-- so it becomes another form of the sound bite.

tangor




msg:4641632
 9:39 pm on Jan 31, 2014 (gmt 0)

140 characters does "get to the point", the remaining question is "what point?"

Not impressed with the TOO BRIEF, but do conceed that quite a lot can get done, but focus? Not really. Usually only just enough to tick someone off. In the process of concentating the message to 140 characters the nuance and real meaning is sometimes lost.

Communication? Disjointed thoughts. My opinion. (This "tweet" is 47 characters, so sometimes it works.)

incrediBILL




msg:4641734
 12:06 pm on Feb 1, 2014 (gmt 0)

It also has the effect of destroying the spelling of our youth. They abbreviate and use short misspellings so much that a lot of them are becoming common. IMHO LOLz l8tr


Don't blame the youth of today as it was when WE were the youth that LOL, ROTFLMAO, IMHO, etc. all came to life.

I'll easily dispute your hypothesis because it was my generation that started all those abbreviations in the early 80s on the BBS circuit where 300 bps typing was excruciating so the more you could convey in fewer 300 bps full duplex echoed, the better. Services like Compuserve, Delphi, AOL, etc. just propagated them faster.

Before that, the telegraphers and teletypers routinely used such abbreviations such as EOM, SOS, etc. of which we all merely expanded upon.

The medium that made people think more about what they said was the telegram


Interesting side note since you mentioned the telegram as the telegraph was technically the first ever worldwide incarnation of an internet over 100 years ago!

lucy24




msg:4641790
 8:43 pm on Feb 1, 2014 (gmt 0)

People didn't send telegrams for random communication. It was to impart urgent information:
GRANDPA DIED
VOTE YES
STILL EXPLODED
ARRIVING THURSDAY
... generally followed-up by an explanatory letter and/or personal visit.

Now suppose people were constrained to one tweet or text message per week (still far more often than an ordinary human would have occasion to send a telegram). Then you might see some thought going into their content.

incrediBILL




msg:4641805
 11:43 pm on Feb 1, 2014 (gmt 0)

Sometimes you have to know what the medium is best for before attempting to use it and many some to the party thinking twitter is a forum or something of that nature. Wrong song.

Maybe to exemplify what I'm trying to say I'll use a personal example, yeah a rebel rule breaker today but I'm not trying to self-promote but I can't think of a better example tying it back to the "elevator pitch" concept I discussed early on and I'm limiting it to one as I could easily drop a dozen. ;)

This quick example is how I reduced a lot of information into a 5 word catch phrase on a beta of my link checking service where I examine external links to validate they're real websites and haven't transitioned to be something else, like domain parks, made for adsense, soft-404s, etc. which is a lot of information. However, after multiple iterations I distilled all that down to one 5 word line that everyone understood:
"When 200 is NOT OK"
Opposed to the usual "200 OK" response you get from a link checker, everyone got it.

That kind of distillation (@lucy 'still broke' lmao) into the bare essentials is what makes for not only very effective twitter communications but a killer catch phrase for the product in the end. There you have it in 5 words saying everything you need to know that what I had was different, what I then expound upon in details with a whole page of description but the hook says it all IMO.

I actually took a day class for entrepreneurs once where they made us keep restating the product description 'elevator pitch' over and over making it smaller on each iteration shooting for 10 words or less. After you got it as small as you thought possible, they'd make you do it one more time and at first everyone was doubtful but it was amazing what could be said with fewer and fewer words.

Enter effective twitter communications, same thing, different context.

I've done this multiple times for multiple products and managed to keep it well under 10 words yet some people (like in that class I took) never seem to be able to get the hang of it, can't get the hook right, and those are the same that seem to struggle with twitter.

You can either master the basics of minimalized communications or you can't, but with practice I think anyone can figure it out. I often rewrite a tweet 3 or 4 times and by the time I'm finished I have a whole story jammed in 140 characters when originally it was barely a single thought.

FWIW, my first cell phone in '91 charged $0.90/min during the day so keeping the discussion to a minute was an art form. Did you know most of the useful data in an average phone call can be conveyed in typically 15 seconds so a whole minute is overkill.

Which brings us back to another reason why I like to force most biz conversations into IM, SMS text, twitter, etc. as it's quick and to the point, no overkill. The minute it transitions to email or a voice call the unlimited nature of those mediums just lure the people in the conversation to make it longer than it needs to be just to socialize and drift off topic.

Case in point, this forum post. LOL

lucy24




msg:4641826
 4:02 am on Feb 2, 2014 (gmt 0)

There's a tiresome old college joke about the student who reduced a semester's worth of class notes to five pages, and then reduced the five pages to one page, and ...

... well, it's one of those jokes whose punchlines you see coming a mile away ;)

mack




msg:4641832
 4:18 am on Feb 2, 2014 (gmt 0)

It helps us write more effective ad copy.. Maybe.

It also created a business model for URL shorteners.

Mack.

incrediBILL




msg:4641934
 5:19 pm on Feb 2, 2014 (gmt 0)

There's a tiresome old college joke

Twitter is literally the living incarnation of the old physics class joke:
"Describe the universe in 25 words or less be concise yet succinct"

I'm still waiting for someone to take a stab at that answer!

Now that we know physics behaves differently on a macroscale and E=MC2 doesn't encompass quantum at all the inclusion of m-theory makes the 25 word limit seem daunting.

It's right up there with knowing the actual number of licks it takes to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop? [webmasterworld.com...]

Some things we may never know ;)

But one thing we know for certain, whatever the answer, you have exactly 140 characters to describe it on Twitter!

... unless you cheat

TomMitchel




msg:4642334
 10:54 am on Feb 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

@mack I think you are correct there. It does push people into ensuring that their 140 characters really do count. Those pushing website and/or business' will be scrutinizing their micro-blog posts to make sure it's is correct in terms of copy and content.

I really like the micro-blogging for of Twitter :)

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