This being my first serious blog post, I was thinking which one, amongst the different topics I have in mind, would be the best to start writing about. And so I started thinking what took me here, to the point where I started a blog, joined few social networks (which I will blog about in the near future) and used some tools to help stay tuned to what’s happening out there on the internet.
Believe it or not, that little spark that fire up the social animal in me was Twitter.
For the ones that don’t know yet what Twitter is, I’ll try to come up with a good definition based on my usage of the tool and try to stay away from all the noise out there. Twitter is a website/webapplication that allows you to post text messages of up to 140 characters. To who? Well, to everyone that “follows” you, i.e. to everyone that has opted to receive your posts by becoming your “follower”. That simple idea has become one of the main ways for people to broadcast their opinions, thoughts, daily activity and much more to the www world.
But let’s get back to the topic of the post. Why Twitter has made me enter the social network world and why I’m using it now as my main feed of information? Besides the ease of use, that it’s free and that allows to receive the messages in a great number of devices, one feature is key for me: it’s concise. It’s only 140 characters and that’s all I need to know if something interests me or not. As the title of this blog says, I stand behind the theory that if you can’t explain something in 140 characters that’s either because you don’t really understand it (and so there is little value in reading what you have to say) or because the matter is so complex that it deserves much more time than what I usually have to read a webpage, web article or anything on a screen of a computer.
Some might say that this theory only applies to certain posts, i.e. the ones where people try to explain or share something they discovered/developed, and that it doesn’t apply for news or product announcements. Well, it does. Again, if a journalist or a marketer or a tech company sales man can’t fit the message in 140 characters, I’m not interested. Maybe not for the very same reason as with the other categories but the end result is the same: I won’t go and read or follow someone that doesn’t have the capacity to extract the important bits of a long story and fit them into the barriers of 140.
So, is 140 characters the new standard to effectively communicate on internet? I don’t think I dare to say that just yet but certainly if you, like I do, receive a significant amount of email (both at work and at your free time) and you, like I do, don’t have a personal assistant that can filter the glitter out of the important information and summarize it, wouldn’t it be great if people took the time to do that before contacting you? That’s what Twitter has achieved. And honestly, I don’t think they thought of this when they set the limit to 140 char. Simply, they took the SMS standard because they wanted to be able to have mobile phones as recipients of the messages. Now, will we see any studies about the 140 character influence in general communications? Sure, the 140 Conference is the first step.