Friday, June 20, 2008

3wrds - when a 140 character microblog is too danged long to create or consume

I had an idea on the way in to work, you can say that Louis Gray gave birth to this idea.

Earlier this morning, I was reading FriendFeed and discovered that Gray and his wife were at the hospital, waiting for their twins to be born. Yet while waiting (or between contractions, or whatever), Louis was still consuming online media.

If the technology had existed in 1991, I would have had plenty of time to consume online media when my daughter was born. This is because my wife asked me to leave the room for a few hours during the later stages of labor. Presumably Louis is a more helpful husband than I am, however, and it occurred to me that he really woudn't have the time to consume all of this online media as the delivery time drew closer.

While driving to work, it occurred to me - why not have a service in which items, rather than being full blogs or 140 character microblogs, were limited to just four words? This would allow time-pressed people to read, or perhaps share, information very quickly.

I was listening to the radio, so I took something from the news and composed my first nanotweet in my head:

McClellan testifies before House

Sounds easy, doesn't it? Well, it is easy.

Too easy.

So I cut it down to three words. I guess I could go down to one word, but three words allow the option of a subject/verb/object format, which should be capable of conveying major thoughts.

I've prototyped this on FriendFeed, for two reasons:

  1. FriendFeed rooms allow a very easy way to prototype things and get feedback.

  2. Unlike Dave Winer, Benjamin Golub, and others, I have few coding skills. (The last time that I coded professionally, I used HyperTalk. I'm still surprised that BASIC no longer requires line numbers.) If I did have coding skills, I'd code something based on characters rather than words - 14 characters sounds good.
So I encourage all of you to join the 3wrds FriendFeed room at and...share some stuff.

P.S. Yes, I'll allow cheating. Links can be included. I'll probably link to this post, but only include a three word title such as "blog announcement written."

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