Harvey and Hugo

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Twitter, twice as long but twice as good?


If you use Twitter, you may well have noticed something of a commotion about character counts in the last week. The reason for all this is that Twitter has rolled out a double length, 280 character allowance as a trial for a select few accounts in most languages (unfortunately, we’re not one ☹).

Ok, but why?

Essentially, it’s an attempt to make using Twitter easier. The official @Twitter account suggested that the increased limit was an attempt to reduce ‘cramming’ (utilising the full 140 characters) which occurs in 9% of all tweets sent in languages other than Korean, Chinese or Japanese. This is because, due to their nature, they can communicate roughly double the amount of information per character as, for instance English.

But we are attached to the 140 character limit!

Well, Twitter founder Jack Dorsey (@Jack) says you shouldn’t be! He explained that the original 140 character limit was simply an arbitrary number based on the 160 character limit of an SMS.

What effect will doubling the count have?

Well, it should, as Twitter hope, reduce cramming and allow users to more effectively communicate their messages. Though currently, users already work their way around the 140 limit by threading tweets, which is a way of creating an unlimited series or ‘thread’ of tweets by replying to their own tweet.

So longer is better, right?

Not necessarily, as Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet: “Brevity is the soul of wit”. If William were around today, we have no doubt that he would have been rather taken with the of the 140 character limit which makes for concise and accessible messages.

Will I get extra characters?

You may get them in this trial, however, if you don’t, don’t be disheartened. It’s likely that in the wake of the trial, the feature will be made available to all accounts, so you could have twice as much space in as soon as the next few months!

What we think.

Here at Harvey & Hugo we remain rather attached to the 140 character limit (despite what @Jack says), but we can also see the value in being able to say that bit more with every tweet.
(this paragraph was 185 characters – case in point!)

What do you think about Twitter’s latest change? Let us know in 140 or 280 characters @HarveyandHugo!

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