I don't know what it is, but so many mainstream magazine-style media publications write about technology from the perspective of old people trying to figure out what the kids are doing these days.
The latest screed in the MSM is that Twitter is going to lose all its customers if it doesn't increase the 140 character limit. To all of you I say: if you cannot write coherent thoughts in 140 characters, YOU ARE TOO VERBOSE. Just because David Foster Wallace wrote page-long sentences, that doesn't mean you can or should. In ANY medium.
The beauty and utility of Twitter comes from its brevity: in quick short bursts you can find information you need on topics you're interested in. You're not meant to be writing sonnets on Twitter, only haikus.
Here are a few reasons why Twitter should under no circumstances raise the text ceiling:
1. Twitter, at its essence, is a stream of headlines about real-time news.
That news may be where Neil Gaiman's speaking tonight, who's censoring the internet in other parts of the world, what feminists are protesting these days, or even what Ashton Kutcher had for lunch. But no matter how carefully you curate your following list, people will post things that are not relevant/interesting to you. And reading 140 characters disinterestedly is not something most people are too bothered about. 280 characters on the other hand? 560? This'll put us in Facebook nuisance territory.
Wanna write a complicated argument in your tweet? Blog it and post a link. If you can't keep it to 140 characters, but don't want to write a full blog post? Write two tweets. If you don't wanna do that? Reconsider how important something is if it can't be pithily expressed in 140 characters, but is not interesting enough to write a full post.
2. 140 characters is not arbitrary:
SMS text messages are 160 characters, which basically allows your handle and another 140 characters. The canard that "no one uses SMS anymore," is stupid and Western-centric. PLENTY of people use text messages to interact with twitter, myself included. You know who else uses text messages? Activists whose political speech has been censored by every other medium. People in disaster scenarios who can't pick up an internet signal. You know, the bread and butter of social media these days. The people who made social media something more than frivolous entertainment.
3. Twitter is not a chat program, no matter how you choose to use it
One of the most frequent complaints about twitter is that you can't hold a linear conversation on it. Not only is it untrue, it's a patently stupid complaint. Twitter lets you write "in reply to" a comment directed at you. Third party clients let you view entire conversations on one page.
If you want to have long, in-depth conversations that track back in a linear fashion? Allow me to introduce you to this wonderful new technology known as...no, I'll let Don Draper introduce it:
In fact, I don't think that there's a single argument against twitter that can't be countered by Don Draper's words there (my words, his face, but who cares).
1. I defend your right to inanity, as long as you KEEP IT SHORT. (I'll still unfollow anyone who so much as mentions a Kardashian, however)
2. Again: If you can't summarize a thought in 140 characters, your thought is probably ill-conceived and lacking in clarity.
3. If twitter really bothers you so much, DON'T USE IT. Enjoy the overload at Google Plus or the endless photographs of cats on Facebook. Leave me to my beautiful information exchange.
There's my polemic. Argue with me in the comments.