140 Characters is a Joke

THERE IS ALWAYS more to the story than what we are told. I am not omniscient. It is better to light a single candle than to join a lynch mob. Other people’s behavior is not my business. Truth is hard, epigrams are easy. Anything worth saying takes more than 140 characters. Blogging’s not dead. F____ the 140 character morality police.

40 thoughts on “140 Characters is a Joke”

  1. Wait, we aren’t supposed to look (solely) to the Facetweet feeds of our industry leaders for solid moral guidance?

    Power to the 140+ character enabled humans.

  2. I completely agree! 140 characters is your basic introduction. Doesn’t get you much further than that.

  3. This is exactly what keeps me from being a heavy twitter user. Too many knee jerk reactions from armchair pundits.

    “It’s better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt.”
    -Mark Twain

  4. I do not read so much of your posts, but this one got me. I can’t say how much I appreciate a good, well-written article about anything. 140 characters is just for people with no depth in their lives (if I am allowed to generalize).

    Good statement! Keep it up

  5. A local ambulance-chaser law firm just recently got a snazzy new phone number to which they can receive texts. Their new marketing campaign is “sometimes it’s not convenient to call.” I’m not sure, but if I ever need to hire a lawyer, I think I’m going to have a lot more to say 140 characters will allow.

    Status messages are for statuses. In status meetings I report that projects are “green” because the parties involved only care that things are on track. That doesn’t absolve me from keeping detailed documentation of the project. Likewise, hearing “things are great” might be enough for particular situations and audiences, but when I run into an old friend that I haven’t seen in years, I’m going to want to hear a little more of the story. It’s no different in the Intertubes.

  6. The early 21st century has become a world of tweets and sound bites, where getting anyone’s attention for longer than 3 minutes has become a major accomplishment.

    Saying too much usually leads to people ignoring you and saying too little usually leads to people wanting to know more.

    So from a marketing perspective, going with 140 characters or less is best. Just don’t expect to learn all you need to know by never looking at what lies underneath.

  7. Maybe that’s the point? Captivate readers and point them in a direction where they can learn more of the story.

    Besides, you CAN tell a great story in 140 characters. It’s not going to cover everything under the sun, but you don’t always need to.

  8. The brevity of this article underscores how impactful concise writing can be, but an artificial contraint can be a hindrance to a strong message. Nice post.

  9. Funny how such a simple realization is so easy to forget when we get caught in the moment. It’s like having the epiphany that we didn’t need to wear the latest pair of Abercrombie jeans or rock that trendy hairstyle back in High School in order to be cool, yet we struggle to drop the concern of what our peers think of us.

    I have been trying to teach our nine year old the importance of standing up for herself and for others and avoiding the lynch mob mentality that pervades the playground. Thanks for reminding us adults of this lesson as well.

  10. Ya know, it’s ok to disagree with Mr. Z now and again. I’ve read as many lame tweets as I have long and rambling blog posts. Someone who has true command of writing can get their point across with or without limitations…in the end, it’s all a matter of taste in how well they pull it off. Short = elegance, long = substance. Anyone who says short- or long-form writing is right or wrong…is wrong. Tweet or blog that as you please.

  11. Hi Jeffrey, I edited this “article” to fit within 140 characters while still delivering the message:

    “THERE IS ALWAYS more to the story. Truth = hard / epigrams = easy. Anything worth saying takes > 140 char. Bloggings not dead. #curmudgeon”

  12. I’m completely and totally on board. Medium and Branch should be a new future to look forward to. However, to be the devils advocate, what about ancient proverbs or the old wise words of authors, theorists, philosophers, etc. They easily fit within the 140 character rule. Are these statements not worth telling? They may not be stories, but they can still be valid and encourage greater thought.

    “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”
    – Confucius

    But cheers to the tweet length hate, I’ll join your lynch mob.

  13. Who are you arguing against here? I wasn’t aware blogs were dying or 140 character posts were becoming a monopoly.

    Ironically, I feel like this blog post is too long for what’s being said.

  14. sounds like a rant to me…

    what is the big deal? each form has their own pros and cons…

    no-one is asking us to choose. i have seen plenty of great tweets and plenty of shit blogs.

    each to their own. both forms have a place…

  15. @Daniel: I think you and many other commentors may have perhaps missed the thrust of this piece: “F____ the 140 character morality police.”

    Read the first 5 sentences again of this piece again.

    Thank you Mr Zeldman, you have succinctly distilled an unease I suspect many of us have been feeling lately.

  16. “Thank you Mr Zeldman, you have succinctly distilled an unease I suspect many of us have been feeling lately.” — Yes. This.

  17. Exactly, we have to careful that our programming does not format how we create an expression to share with others. This applies across the inner tubes.

  18. My initial reaction from reading this was that it was generally about the whole ‘dongle-gate’ at Pycon, and the twitter storm that erupted afterwards. The whole ‘not joining a lynch-mob’ and ‘Other people’s behavior is not my business…’

    In other words, the whole thing brought to light that 140 characters is perhaps enough to cause a ruckus and a brutal flame war, but not enough to actually make a real truthful and valuable statement… i would have to say i agree with that.

    The whole thing (to me atleast) was just awful to behold. From the ‘outing’ of what to me appeared to be just a couple of regular guys as somehow being the anti-christ, to the disgusting and sexist display of retribution against the lady that started the whole thing. All because it seemed like a good idea to do it online at 140 characters, where it’s impossible to convey the real truth of a situation.

    If there’s a lesson to be learned here folks, it’s exactly as Jeffery wrote it. Other people’s behavior really isn’t your business, and joining the lynch mob is a bad idea.

  19. Usually the 140 characters is just a teaser and a link to much more useful information. Although Twitter is not really my thing, sometimes I find interesting or helpful information through it. I like your blog and it’s design. Who are the morality police you are referring to here?

  20. 140 is not enough to write, but it’s too much for some to read. Zeldman, it’s good to see that you’re still passionate. That’s not bupkis!

  21. I’m truly enjoying the design and layout of your site. It’s a very easy on the eyes
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    more often. Did you hire out a designer to create your theme?
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  22. Link exchange is nothing else except it is just placing the other person’s blog link on your page at proper place and other person will also do same for you.

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