While Twitter has become a wildly popular new means of communication, it has not been without its critics. Questions like, “What can we say that is meaningful in 140 characters?” and “What are we losing by keeping our social interactions so brief?” have abounded since Twitter’s inception. The value of brevity, however, is not a new concept. In the late 19th and early 20th century, one of the most efficient ways to transmit important information rapidly over great distances was the telegram.
Telegram authors had an incentive to be brief – most telegram companies charged per word. As a result, authors took some common shortcuts used in the Twitterverse such as dropping pronouns and articles and using abbreviations and code words to maximize information and minimize characters. So forced brevity in communications isn’t really a new concept at all. In fact, telegrams were often used to convey life-changing news-births, deaths…
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