Thursday, June 04, 2009

Minimalist Communication


The time has come to recognize that communication is completely evolving to a minimalist state. Traditional phone calls as we’ve known them during which individuals actually talk back and forth with one another are becoming, and in some instances have already become, obsolete. Wouldn’t you know this situation occurs at a time within our country, and in some cases all over the world, when the long distance phone calls can be made at no extra charge.

Much of my life these distant calls cost a premium. If you made such a call for pleasure everyone in the household took turns talking so you could get your moneys worth. Usually the long distance phone call was placed only in an emergency situation – generally because somebody had died. When you stop to think about it, that was a little late then to be calling.

I first became aware this minimalist communication evolution was beginning to occur a number of years ago. Movie makers began shortening most of their films lengths to two hours duration to accommodate television programming time periods. They began to cut out parts of longer movies. Gone have been the films whose story was best told with content that could extend beyond that two hour limit by even five minutes, much less an hour or more. Some movies would be better if compacted into fifteen minutes, frankly, but I usually don’t watch that type anyway. There are also movies whose plot might benefit from being stretched out past that arbitrary couple of hours.

Movies are not alone in experiencing this trend toward brevity in all things. Stage theatre has given way to two act productions from three. Often those two acts are filled with lots of scenes. The long traditional three act play exists now only in the resurrection of classic productions from yesteryear. Many of those are being adapted and shortened in the process.

This time/content compression trend continues to expand. Soon long blogging essays may well become relics of the past, giving way to a combination of text messaging, twittering, and whatever new scheme is created. I’m no authority on either texting or twittering. I confess I only recently tried texting once and have never twittered. Well, maybe I twittered in my younger days, but I think we called it something else that had nothing whatsoever to do with typing alphabet letters and words.

My recent effort at text messaging occurred because someone sent me a text message requiring a reply. I had never read any texting directions in my book of cell phone operation instructions. The book was supposed to be a ‘how to’ manual, so I was at some disadvantage replying appropriately. My cell phone had so many features on it beyond those for my immediate needs, I figured it could take forever to learn all of them at once, especially when I saw the size of that manual – longer than some novels. I mostly add phone feature skills to my repertoire gradually, one by one, through trial and error. So it would be with texting.

There was a slight hitch as I fumbled with the cell phone, because I could never be sure which of the three alphabet letters above the keyboard number I selected would show up in my message. It surely did create some strange but interesting words. The recipient of my reply and I still laugh at the convoluted twisted spelling of her name which she now uses as an alias. I realized that must be how some people come up with the name they give their newborns today, ‘cause there sure are some strange names I’ve encountered.

Texting, as I understand it, involves a lot of abbreviations and phonetic spelling of words. So, we’d get something like: i c u r dun. LOLFOTFL – Then, guess you just type these short little ditties, or longer if you like, back and forth with whoever you’re texting with.

Twittering, I’m told, places a 140 letter/symbol limit on the length of the message. FWIW the preceding sentence is composed of about half the specified number of letters/symbols allowed. (This last sentence is too long to complete the other half of the allowed message length.)

So, you see that short Twitter paragraph of two sentences above is TOO-OOO LONNGGG!

If blogging posts are going to evolve to Texting and Twittering criteria, I’m wondering if I should start trying to adapt my pieces now with these simple rules:
1. Use abbreviations, phonetic spellings only
2. Message is limited to 140 letter/symbols
3. Remember KISS

Here’s my piece for today:

Im sare 4 gm, krislr wrkrs. Y duz r tax mune go 2 biznes, banks, wal strt, naht foks?
Y do progrms tax kts hrt pur, old, sik, disabld, retird? Whn wil al hav helth kar?

(Note: my Word automatic spell corrector is going nuts with these last two lines I typed.)

If Text ‘n Twitter 140 words/symbols isn’t long enough for you, check out this link for Twitzer, then you can Text’nTwitterTwitzer, or Text’nTT. (Twitzer is a Firefox extension:


  1. very entertaining, joanne. and here's how some of us know we really
    ARE old. we don't care to learn how to text nor twitter! there's a certain comfort in staying outside the fray.

  2. Facebook allows longer blurbs than Twitter, but I will check out twitzer when I get home from work today. Thanks for the info.

    I refuse to learn how to text!!

  3. I don't twitter or text. I don't even have a cell phone. The thing I really dislike about texting is that kids no longer know how to spell. My youngest granddaughter texts her friends constantly when she is here. When I get e-mails from her she uses the text abbreviations and I suspect it's because she doesn't know the correct spelling.

  4. Naomi: I read you! Who knows what the next great application will be tossed into the fray, and what may bite the dust.

    Kenju: Sounds like if you're happy with Facebook, TT might not be needed.

    Darlene: You make a good point about whether or not spelling is being altered. We don't use old English spellings any more, so maybe our words are going by the wayside. I've always hoped phonetic spelling would be adopted.

    Readers: An anonymous verbal comment given to me when I described this topic offered this suggestion. A new communication application needs to be created to work with these I've described here and should be called "Twizzle."

    I lik ths id: Text'nTwitter/Twitzer/Twizzle, or Text'nTTT.

  5. I'm not sure why, but the link to Twitzer isn't coming up, nor does it work if I put the URL in directly. I promise you, I did read about this extension at that link.

  6. This was very interesting Joared. I also refuse to get pulled into the text and Twitter world...I just don't want to deal with it. My one daughter is very involved in it...mainly because she has to be through her business; but I on the other hand, just keep running faster the other way.

  7. Dear Joanne - ROFLMAO - that was great. Thank goodness we are all here in this blogosphere. thanks for the good post.

  8. I am a crabby old broad (and damned proud to be one.) Texting, Twittering and Facebook all annoy the hell outta me. I can't be bothered with any of it. And people wonder why kids can't spell.

  9. You gave me a big laugh when you said that your Word automatic spell corrector went nuts!! That was really funny!!!!!

  10. Joy: Your dtr could educate you to be an expert in all this, then you could teach us!

    Suzanne: Glad you had a few laughs from this 'cause I really did exaggerate a bit -- the phone isn't really obsolete -- yet!

    The only serious matters had to do with my brief but ever so sincere phonetically written message -- all current issues I'm following and that are very much on my mind.

    Kay: Some grad student should do a study with the hypothesis that those who text prolifically spell less accurately than those in the normal range of spellers.

    Millie: Ah, watching spell checker go loopy with the phonetic spelling was a sight to behold. I kept wishing I still had that little "clippy" paperclip figure that used to pop up on my old PC Word program, just to see what sort of antics he would have done. I always kinda liked him, but guess others didn't, so they did away with him as he's not on my laptop.

  11. lots of new information here. twitzer? is very interesting, as are all the rest, but i can't figure out twitter (i seem to have two accounts, one of which i didn't ask for), and i hate facebook. my cell phone is the only one i can hear on, so that stays. i find texting is fine when the network is down, but it's expensive as heck....whatever floats ur boat, i guess..until the next new thing comes along.

    one thing i've noticed now that i can hear again is how FAST people talk on TV. 1800pedmeds....that's my

  12. Thanks for the laugh, Joared. I'm one who was pleased when I got email. Never in my life have I been comfortable making phone calls. Emails are attuned to my druthers.
    Cop Car