A picture is worth more than 140 characters

Tweets cannot be longer than 140 characters. This may look like a severe restriction because when we compose a tweet, it typically exceeds this limit. But now the rewriting fun begins — we find that with some effort we can make our tweet more succinct. This is an iterative process and takes time, as Pascal observed more than 350 years ago.

I have only made this letter longer because I have not had the time to make it shorter — Blaise Pascal

But it is quite satisfying when you bring the length to 140 characters or less.

But for many, this 140 character limitation is too restrictive. So, what do they do? They take advantage of the fact that Twitter allows you to embed a picture in a tweet. So you see tweets like these:

From Amir Khan:
**Amir Khan -- 25 Nov 2015**

From Nick Timiraos: Nikki Haley’s speech tonight–as much a response to her own party as to the other party
**Nick Timiraos -- 13 Jan 2016**

There have been reports that Twitter is planning to increase the max length of tweets from 140 to a whopping 10000 characters — if true, this is a bad idea. We have blogs for that.

Note that this rewriting applies not only to tweets but also to letters, emails, blog articles, lectures etc., where you don’t have a restriction on the length and hence less motivation to rewrite. So, with some time and effort I should be able to make this article more succinct and convey the same message!

Other relevant quotes:

Brevity is the soul of wit — Shakespeare, Hamlet

Writing is 1 percent inspiration, and 99 percent elimination — Louise Brooks

The secret of a good sermon is to have a good beginning and a good ending; and to have the two as close together as possible — George Burns

It is my ambition to say in ten sentences what others say in a whole book — an audacious claim by Friedrich Nietzsche

A novel is just a story that hasn’t yet discovered a way to be brief — George Saunders

About Babu Srinivasan

My interests are in computer security, cryptography, functional programming and general aviation. I occasionally write articles on these and other topics in my blog.

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