Twitter’s new 2500-word limit won’t fix the attention spans it has broken


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Twitter ruined the world’s attention, but grew a legion of concise common sense. Now it is throwing away its identity as it wants to become a full blogging service with the new Notes feature.

Twitter’s initial limit of 140 characters was a nod to text messaging history that we’ve all forgotten. But if we did not remember the reason for the limit, then most of us learned to write concisely, while also knowing people who chose to write insanely instead.

Maybe we regret the insanity, maybe we regret the attempt to shorten our attention, and Twitter extended the limit to 280 characters in 2017. The verdict is still out on whether it was an improvement or not.

Instead of the approximately 25 words one could get in 140 characters, or the virtually book-length 50 words with 280 characters, Twitter became known for 7-word GIF.

GIFs actually do not have to have any words, they can annoy all by themselves. But they were typically endowed with the kind of wit that used to be reserved for the inspirational posters that companies put up instead of paying better wages.

And now, with all the attention away, all the tastes disappeared, and almost all sorts of memes were created and circulated more often than the annoying cousin used to send them to you, Twitter has a new goal.

It’s not about changing our attention. Twitter might say it’s about letting us write more, but it’s not.

Twitter takes on blogs. Its new Twitter Notes feature lets people write not too much, not too little, just a “medium” amount. As in Medium is the successful blogging platform that offers absorbing readings but which is probably best loved for definitely inspiring the “Tedium” blog.

An example of one of the first notes

To be fair, the new tones still have boundaries where Medium and the others do not. The title of the blog must e.g. not exceed 100 characters, and the word count of the blog must not exceed 2,500 words.

According to Wolfram Alpha, the average length of a word in the English language is 5.1 characters.

There is expanding your user base, there is expanding your goals, and then there is Elon Musk, who is questioning the numbers on Twitter accounts. That was, of course, before the company unveiled this new limit of just 90 times the original 140-character limit.

Twitter’s movement from tweets to notes is not music to our ears.

William

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