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June 05, 2012


Account Deleted

One of the stylistic precursors of Twitter was the Powerpoint presentation. A four-line bullet point, in 32-point text, is around 140 characters. You could get two of these on a single slide, or one if you combined it with cheesy clip-art.

The other precursor was SMS text-messaging. This has a technical limit of 140 characters per message, which encouraged concision and the use of shorthand. Twitter maintained this limit for backward-compatibility.

Steam-punk Twitter would probably have been seen as a sort of broadcast telegram, and so have adopted that medium's stylistic conventions.

You might have thought Oscar Wilde or Bernard Shaw would see the potential for disseminating their aphorisms, but as they were already able to do that via theatre and book, would they have bothered?

Will Davies

Aaah, I had never heard about the SMS backward compatibility. That's interesting. And a major hole in my blog post!

Dick Pountain

It's the latest step in democratisation: everyone an aphorist. Problem is people appear to believe an aphorism is defined solely by shortness rather than insight.

Ian C

A tweet - 140 characters in search of a sentence.

It might look like the latest step in democratisation, Dick, but surely the next phase will be the appropriation of tweeting for the purposes of the Market-Disciplinary Corporate State. All employees will be assessed on the volume of their tweets promoting the business. Academics will have to get their tweets peer-reviewed and assessed for 'impact' by the Research Councils. And soon there will be a tweet hotline for citizens to denounce their neighbours for benefit scrounging or anti-social behaviour. You heard it here first.

Dick Pountain

I denounce Ian C as a rogue defeatist anti-capitalist element. (This denunciation was brought to you via Sony's marvellous Viao® TZ21)

Anthony Barnett

If you wade through 13,000 words on how the Falklands turned out to be a war on the future rather than on behalf of the past, you'll come to a historic half-tweet from the 17th century. Brevity can deliver content.
More seriously, tweets are best to impart links and / or judgements on links as well as having occasional spats!

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