Wed 18 Mar 2009
“Brevity is the soul of wit” according to the great bard, William Shakespeare. The same applies to the social networking fad, Twitter.
What is Twitter? It is a website that allows users to post very short messages, called “tweets”, which will be seen by their “followers”. Honestly, that is about it.
So why are people excited about it? With a little wit, effort and dedication, one can build a large following. So large in fact, that a simple tweet can drive a lot of traffic to a blog or sales site, thus influencing ideas and purchases. In fact, I recently conducted a Twitter experiment to help promote this blog. I plan to post about that soon.
The defining feature of Twitter is the 140 character limit per tweet. At first, this limitation seems extraordinarily annoying. But there is wisdom in this design, and this feature is at the heart of Twitter’s success.
It truly is an art to learn how to say something effective with as few words as possible. Is it possible to move the world of public opinion in 140 characters or less? Consider the following example from history.
Perhaps the worlds greatest example (in my humble opinion) of saying the most with the fewest words would be the preamble to the American Constitution which is as follows:
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” (BTW, This preamble, with some abbreviation, would fit comfortably into two Tweets.)
No words have had a greater impact on the history of political thought than these. They accomplish a number of things we should not take for granted. They establish “the people” as the seat of sovereignty, vs an abstract entity like “the state”. Next are the enumerated roles of legitimate governments. And lastly, they move to introduce the Constitution itself, the foundational document of what would become the most powerful nation in the world.
My point is this… Creative Brevity changes the world.
Ah, Brevity really is the soul of Twit(ter).