As I read Dom Sagolla’s 140 Characters: A Style Guide for the Short Form, I will post passages that have me underlining and/or writing in the margins.
Democracy travels in wee packets of ideas, words shaped for speed and accuracy, arriving in moments of need. Now is the best time for free speech; it is blooming all around us. Letters packed into the crannies of text messaging programs, traded between friends and lovers, are the seeds of hope for a more literate generation.
Necessary change is what the short form represents, from a past in which only certain people had access and reach to a time when the most basic cellular device may broadcast hypertext to millions instantly.
We can now bring distributed community to places where traditional data networks have yet to establish themselves. Any cellular device will do; they all support the basic texting protocol, because it was designed to test the network itself.
We are using the tools of the most humble quality engineer to build the most powerful network ever created. We use this short format the way we want to use it, not necessarily the way it was designed to be used.
As individual voices are heard and become more mighty, we will see a rapid evolution in government, finance, and many sectors never before touched by the Internet. Not all of us were born to become authors, but we are each given the chance. Once you begin to focus on words, winding paths of imagination open up. What was indescribable now takes form step by step.
Whatever we were before, now we are writers and authors of our own destiny. Each of us is breaking the story of our own lives.
The protagonist is you. The narrator of the story is you. The first, best reader is you. 140 characters will free you from the desktop and get you out into the world. You will remain hyperconnected and even more available than before, and there will be no catching your breath….
[George Packer would not find reassurance here. – Ed.]
The short form is without revision. One can’t take back or retract a text message, a tweet, or the history of a Google Wave. Much like an e-mail, that copy is irrevocable, out there in the hand of its recipient….
Instant vintage, that is what we have: Sudden eternity, the opposite of ephemeral, unaffected by the passage of time. Each tweet keeps its immortal bubble, as great or as flawed as it may be. (Twitter: where typos live in infamy. http://twitter.com/#!/japhy/status/1872401936 )
Even in the tiny, we find truth. The heraldry of honesty and sincerity is unmistakable at this range. 140 characters is just enough to distinguish description from deception, simplicity from simple-mindedness, and gravitas from guile. (4-6, emphasis added)