Twitter – the medium is NOT the message!

Regular readers of my ‘jottings’ might recall a recent post of mine in which I debated the value of Tweeted Wisdom.  Always one to consider returning to the scene of past musings, I was today motivated back in to Twitter criticism territory after I read a Tweet that suggested that:

 “100 is the new 140 for massive retweetlove”.

Now, I have enough problems with 140 characters, but then again I’m using Twitter to communicate ideas and concepts as well as gossip, funnies and bon-mot to the good folks following me.  Whether I get re-tweeted or not is not the first thing in my mind when I put a Tweet together – what matters to me is whether I can marshall the idea effectively in to the 140 character limit.

Starting to apply lower character limits to Tweets based purely on the possibility of re-tweeting does seem rather ‘arse about face’ to me – it IS putting the process of communication ahead of the content – i.e. putting the medium before the message.

Some years ago, the Ford Motor Company were in pretty dire straits – losing money and market.  There was a serious concern amongst the higher echelons at Deerborn that Ford might actually go under.  Various policies were implemented throughout the organisation, including cuts to the design and manufacturing base of the company.  The story goes that at one Board Meeting, some of the directors were commenting that they had managed to get the books looking better by reducing costs, and that most of the cost reductions had come from savings made by closing down manufacturing facilities.  A grizzled old veteran who DID know the difference between a carburetor and a Carbonara pithily pointed out that, based on that thesis, the best way to save the company was to close ALL the company’s manufacturing facilities and stop making cars altogether….

And this is how this sort of emphasis on the mechanism of Twitter strikes me; people get way too wound up with the phenomena and culture and technology of Twitter rather than the function – and the function of Twitter is to allow rapid, succinct communication and conversation between people.  Or even between people and other computer programs!  But the emphasis is on communication and conversation – and when we start emphasising the possibility of a re-tweet over the quality of content, we are in danger of making Twitter more ‘gimmicky’ – something that is not good.

So, for what it’s worth – use that character allowance for the purpose it was originally given to us – to communicate.  Giving 30% of available space up for posisble re-tweets seems pointless.  What matters is what you say; not necessarily how many times it gets re-tweeted.  The ultimate re-tweetable message accoridng to some folks would be a single word – don’t let the usefulness of Twitter be compromised by ego.

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