The long and short of it


(Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash)

So Twitter have finally gone and done it. They have rolled out the 280 character limit to everyone, despite the fact that what users actually wanted was an edit button.

Like most of my peers I use twitter a lot for professional purposes, although I do have my internal struggles about it.

I have always been impressed by how eloquent other people, even me at times  (and I know there are exceptions, hello Mr President) can be in 140 characters.

But now, 280 characters. I really hope that the habit, and self regulation Twitter claims to have seen does in fact pan out. Apparently in their testing only  5% of tweets sent were longer than 140 characters and 2% were over 190 characters.

Twitter works (ed) for me because of its brevity.  I was as skeptical as anyone at first about the point of message “only” consisting of 140 characters, but I think it made me be more concise and a better note taker/writer which is no a bad thing.   Yes I got frustrated at times not having an extra 2 or 3 characters, but that just made me have to really consider and edit what I was trying to say.

JK Rowling sums it up nicely

I wonder in in a couple of months/ a year if I will feel more comfortable with the new limit? I guess I just have to wait and see. Maybe one long tweet is better than 2 or 3 short ones . . . I really don’t know. What do you think?


  1. It was a practiced skill to craft a meaningful response in 140 characters or less. Brevity is the soul of wit etc (and still 30 characters left!)

  2. I also like the brevity, albeit frustrating at times. I’ve just returned from a conference (as an aside, one of New Zealand’s best with no presentations, just conversations. You should come!) where although most tweets would easily be within 140 it was good not to truncate or multi-tweet when some longer pieces were needed. That goodness came from the speed of action whereas previously by the time you get a tweet down to 140 you’ve missed a whole pile of what was said in the interim. Tweets at
    (Non linear timeline is worse bugbear than 140/280!)

      • I am constantly blown away by how good an event it is, predicated on allowing knowledge to generate in the room. The sharing, respect and willingness to take action sometimes makes you wonder if someone poured unicorn essence into the water cooler 🙂

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