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August 21, 2007

Twitter as Telegram

While reviewing some family history, notably the early death of my Father’s Father, I was struck with how Twitter today was a Telegram yesterday.

Think about it.

With Twitter you are limited to 140 characters. With Telegrams from the bygone era you were essentially limited to 140 characters because anything more would have been super-spendy.

People using Twitter are answering the question of “What are you doing?” People who used Telegrams were answering the question of “What are you thinking?”

Twitter’s interface resembles a Telegram’s interface. Have a look ... below is a telegram from friends of my Grandmother expressing their condolences over the passing of her husband, Al Moore. The crux of the message is a mere 100 characters: Have just heard of your great misfortune our heartfelt sympathy is with you = Elizabeth and Luttrell.


Yes, this analysis is limited and flawed. Twitter’s ability to connect with people in real-time with words makes it difficult to truly compare it to a Telegram. However, back in its day, a Telegram was the most instantaneous way to send a note to someone. Much more instantaneous than the Pony Express.


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Darren Barefoot had a similar example in his Gnomedex talk a few weeks ago.

One of the things he talked about was the cost-per-word of telegrams and how there was a direct economic impact of what you had to say. Interesting stuff.

Josh ... funny coincidence with Darren's comparison of Twitter to a Telegram. For Darren's smart take, go here.

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