New Twitter messages to be 1 character long

twitterseThe social networking site Twitter has announced that it is slashing the length of user messages, or tweets from 140 characters or less to 1 character or less.

“At first, it was about cutting costs,” said Mary-Ellen Twitter, inventor of the popular service. “Going from 140 characters to one means we’ve slashed costs by 99.3%. But then we realized we’ve done more than that. We’ve taken the fundamental unit of communication – the character – and put it front and center.”

The unveiling follows more than a year of beta testing by volunteer users, who had migrated from the old Twitter. Most think TwitTerse is a winner.

Larian Duchovny is a former Twitterer. After trying TwitTerse, he says he’ll never go back. “After you’ve got used to communicating in one character or less, those old-school Twitter messages are so boring. I start reading one, get 30 characters in, and I’m already falling asleep. Who has time for that?”

TwitTerse also solves a deep philosophical problem with Twitter. Traditionally, Twitter users are supposed to answer the simple question: “What are you doing now?” But, according to former Twitter user Rozalinda Keepers, it never quite worked.

“If I was gardening, I’d stop and type ‘I am gardening’. But I wasn’t gardening any more – I was typing on Twitter. So everything I tweeted was a total lie. I felt so guilty.”

The new service eliminates the so-called Twitter Paradox by posing a much simpler question: “What character are you typing now?”

“I love this,” said Keepers. “Because you’re never wrong. Even if you meant to type E, and hit L by mistake, it’s still correct.”

Some critics say the new service is symptomatic of society’s declining attention span, and worry that it represents a dumbing down of communication. Shemp Hobbes, author of TwitTerse and the Global Economic Informational Blue Skies Paradigm, disagrees.

“Nothing could be further from the truth,” says Hobbes. “The really dumb communication is gabbing on the telephone, or sending a long pointless email. TwitTerse brings communication into sharp focus, by reducing it to its purest form.”

In an age where many are feeling overwhelmed by the amount of information they receive, social networkers are finding that TwitTerse helps lighten the load.

“It used to take me a whole minute to scan the tweets of everyone I’m following,” says Hobbes. “But when each one is just a letter long, that time is cut to less than a second.”

Some TwitTerse messages have already reached iconic status. Barack Obama was a subscriber to the trial version of TwitTerse. When he won the US presidency, he sent out a message consisting of the single digit “1”. His followers were delighted.

“It was brilliant,” said Keepers. “Because he’d won, but he was also number one in the country. After that, nobody could use 1 again, without looking like a Barack wannabe. There’s even talk of retiring the number 1 and replacing it with a new character – maybe a smiley face, or a diamond.”

But Hobbes believes that what really sets TwitTerse apart is the open-ended nature of the dialog.

“Say I don’t have time to choose a letter. I can just hit a key at random, and let the person at the other end figure out what it means. So we’re moving away from the old fashioned concept of one person saying what they think they mean, and towards a world where meaning becomes a collaborative processs. Corporations better sit up and take notice. This changes everything. For everyone. Everywhere. Forever.”

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