I can’t help but think that Twitter’s move to 280 character tweets will have some effect on the way people use the application. Think of the Twitter chat.
A part of Twitter since its earliest days, the Twitter chat is one of the platform’s unique uses for bringing likeminded folks together for some serious back and forth. Part of what makes a Twitter chat hum is the pace and flow of the chat. Tolerable microboluses of insight and opinion collectively woven together make for a unique experience.
Four ways Twitter’s character limit could impact the Twitter chat
Here are four ways Twitter’s new character limit could impact this mainstay of online culture.
- Speed of read. 140 characters was challenging. 280 is too much at the pace of a well-populated chat. I watched an important health-related Twitter chat recently. Every tweet was a full up 280. I found myself stopping halfway through and ultimately stopping. Important information left unread over the marketing miscue of down-your-throat messaging.
- Grandstanding. Before 280 Twitter imposed a character limit that made tweetchats work. Sure there have always been high volume participants who take advantage of the microphone with a double rate of tweets. We call those folks ‘noisy.’ Without amping up your tweet frequency, 280 characters makes grandstanding de rigeur.
- Speed of entry. Twice as many characters makes you spend twice much time talking half as much time listening. God gave you two ears, one mouth and 140 characters for a reason.
- Real estate. Screen space on my mobile devices fits only a certain amount of type. This means fewer comments from fewer folks per swipe. Insignificant as it may seem, it makes for a very different listening experience.
Hard-core chatters unlikely to be fazed by more noise
Dyed-in-the wool chatters are unlikely to be spooked by more noise. But expect information microoverload to eat at the edges of those who had a hard time keeping up even in the good old days of 140.
Bottom line: Survival of the Twitter chat may call for self or moderator-imposed character control. Otherwise it may mark the beginning of the slow death of the Twitter chat.