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Posts Tagged ‘140-characters’

How Does Your Twitter Output Stack Up To Proust?

An oddball new app harnesses the Twitter API to track how many characters a user has tweeted since they started using the micro-blogging service. It might not be the most indispensable app in the marketplace but it’s not mindless. The app also offers context, comparing the character count to those of literary masterworks by the likes of Shakespeare, Orwell and Tolstoy.
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Deck.ly Lets You Write Tweets Longer Than 140 Characters

TweetDeck has just unveiled a new system for extending your tweets to be longer than 140-characters – and the full tweets can be read right from within TweetDeck. We’ve seen technology like this in the past, but none that has been supported by Twitter or one of the major dashboards.
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Does Twitter Need 'Fat Tweets'?

Dave Winer has a proposal for Twitter.

In case you missed it (I did – I was enduring an 8-hour drive back home from Devon), briefly last night a loophole in Twitter’s internal URL-shortener meant it was possible to create tweets of longer than 140 characters.

Much longer – here’s an example from Dave himself here. Dave has pitched Twitter on the idea of letting these ‘fat tweets’ be open to a select few over a period of seven days to see if they’re any better or worse than what we have now.

I’m hot and cold on the issue of longer tweets. I kind of like the idea of a blog-style ‘more’ button for anything > 140, with tweets below that number rendering as they do now, but I can just see this being really abused by, you know, idiots.

Last thing I want is one tweet per screen. Especially on my netbook. In HootSuite, I only get 4-5 as it is. Can you imagine an update of several huge tweets from different folks, all at once? Even if we applied a bigger limit – say, 500 characters – this would still be a problem.

Sure, you can unfollow people who abuse something like this, and maybe that’s the answer for some folks, but it’s a bit too either/or for my liking. For example, I follow a lot of writers. And writers like to write. That’s their prerogative, of course, but I’m not sure I necessarily want to see volumes when 140 characters will do. And retweets throw up another (potentially hideous) can of worms.

You could make this configurable on a per-user basis, like we do retweets on Twitter, and that could work. Or, as Dave says, make the entire thing optional – and if you opted out, longer tweets would have to link off somewhere. Would you read them? If you’re like me, probably not. I tend to avoid things such as Twitlonger like the plague – and this includes the links.

There’s something about the limitations of 140 that absolutely improve not only the way that you write and deliver headlines, but the way you think about them, too. It also makes you very creative with language. Less is more, and all that.

Maybe it could or should be a premium feature? Pay-per-character. 140 or less is free for everybody, but you go above that and you’re billed. That would at least give all but the richest of mass-marketers pause.

Another possible problem: if (pigs could fly and) Twitter agreed to do this, what happens to those fat tweets as soon as they switch everything back to the 140-character limit? Either they’ll have to be linked on to somewhere else so they can be read in full (kind of like this, which Twitter did yesterday) or they’ll just stop at 140 characters. Could be awkward, and perhaps a little mssy.

I suppose it essentially comes down to this – why tweet, when you can blog, and simply link to it on Twitter? Kind of like how we do now. Isn’t the short, bite-sized exchange of information slices really what it’s all about? And if it becomes something else, is it still Twitter?

I couldn’t give a hoot about protecting the tweet upper-limit so everything works in SMS text messaging on mobile phones – I’d like to see that archaic way of using Twitter buried completely, being totally frank.  If only because it would mean (really quite basic) add-ons like (proper) hyperlinks could be quickly implemented, but tampering too much with the character limit makes me a little edgy.

All that said, if (Hell freezes over and) Twitter agrees to play around with this, it’ll be absolutely fascinating. I’m pro the experiment. I’m just not sure it’s something that I want to see become a permanent feature.

(Image credit: Aleandros.)

Why Send A Dozen Direct Messages (Or Tweets) When One Email Will Do?

Things are beginning to change, but for a long time – and I still hear this from certain quarters – one of the main reasons given as to why you should always follow everybody back who follows you is because it allows them to contact you privately via direct message (DM).

To this I say: poppycock. (And I don’t use that term lightly.)

As if that’s ever been any kind of perk. The DM feature on Twitter is and always has been broken. There’s no way to search or filter messages, it’s awkward to delete (certainly in bulk) and it doesn’t come with any kind of spam guard.

Why, then, would we encourage the use of a system that is so clearly flawed?

Moreover, while Twitter is fantastic for quick, punchy exchanges of information and thoughts, it doesn’t stand up too well when you want to have a long, detailed, drawn-out conversation with one or more people. It becomes a little awkward sharing all those words in bite-sized, 140-character chunks. People speak out of turn, it’s easy to get confused, and it quickly becomes messy and problematic.

When I find myself in any kind of extended dialogue on Twitter, I always rapidly come to the same conclusion, which I readily propose to the other user(s) – can we continue this via email?

Email is really good at the things at which Twitter is bad. It excels in long, detailed, drawn-out conversations. (And conversely, it isn’t so hot at real-time exchanges of information). Email allows YOU to write a longer, more thorough message, and lets ME quote from your message and respond accordingly.

There’s no real reason why direct messages should be limited to the same number of characters as a standard tweet, but they are. If and when Twitter decides to completely revamp the private message system and opens it up to a fully-featured experience that allows for broader conversations, then the argument that follows should be reciprocated (assuming, of course, that they are still relevant) will have a lot more weight.

Until that happens, direct messages are essentially just a private way to share a tweet. And unless that tweet absolutely needs to be private – and your latest get rich quick scheme doesn’t really qualify, as you’ve already sent it to 10,000 other people – then just contact me using a standard reply.

And for those times when your message is for my attention only and/or requires a lot more breathing space than that provided by the 140-characters of a standard tweet, then please: contact me by email.

I’m very happy to look at (and maybe review) your Twitter client. I’d be thrilled to test-drive your Twitter app. Absolutely I’d be interested in speaking at your conference. And I’ll certainly help you or your brand find a better way to do business on Twitter.

Go ahead, send me an email. I promise you I do read and (where required) reply to every single one.

(Unless, that is, it’s spam or contains the ranting and ravings of a disturbed person. That kind of stuff is far better suited, and significantly more prevalent, within the direct message system. Especially if you follow everybody back.)

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