Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Do you agree that Twitter is the telegraph of the 21st Century?

For those of us who have been using Twitter for some time now (whatever that means, since it's only a few years old), we generally take the limitations for granted. It's no big deal that there's a limit on characters for posts (though shouldn't the limit be the same as for text messages, since that's how many of us get our Tweets?). We develop a routine of acknowledging or ignoring those who follow us, sometimes following them back, and we all go through the new period, where we make a determination regarding the level of Twitter we are able to squeeze into our lives (and still have a life).

But the biggest adjustment for me has been the new language. Why is it that we don't hesitate to tailor our messages to the delivery method? Are we so accustomed to flexibility that we will alter our mode of communication even when there is not a clear reason why?

I think so, and we can blame it on the telegraph.

Do you remember those? The remnants are still around - just go to your local grocery store and look for the yellow Western Union sign. That company (that now owns the lion's share of bankless cash transfers) used to be where we went to get a message across the state, across the country, and even around the world.

If you have always wanted to write a how-to manual for Twitterspeak, you might be able to use this booklet as a template. The Telegraph Office published "HOW TO WRITE TELEGRAMS PROPERLY" A Small Booklet by Nelson E. Ross, in 1928.

So did anyone talk that way? No, and we don't (yet) talk like we Twitter. I will admit that I use some of the generally accepted text abbreviations in my presentations (especially ROTFL) but I've yet to smile and wink with my face in a horizontal position, and neither of these are unique to Twitter.

So, when do we start talking In Twitterspeak?

What do you think?

(see the Daily Telegraph on Twitter)

1 comment:

AAARenee said...


When we're out of cell minutes...lol!

On a more serious note, I agree with your comparisons to the telegraph.

Additionally, it's also worth noting that the ancient Romans also had cost issues associated with communication & found that less was more:




Inevitably, our limited resources of time, characters, & usage plans will continue to have us borrowing our plays straight from our ancient ancestors’ playbooks. Here are the six categories of their brevity:
• Truncation
• Contraction
• Abbreviation marks significant in themselves
• Abbreviation marks significant in context
• Superscript letter
• Conventional signs