A world in 140 characters ? Really ?

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Summary : Are we linving in a 140 characters world ? Not at all. 140 characters is only the signal that points at something bigger and without which no signal would exist.

Sometimes we need symbol to show how our world is changing, to what extent a tool is leaving its mark on an era even if this era is only a few months long. Today’s trendy tool being Twitter, it’s a commonly used reference to describe the world of instantaneousness, of spontaneity, of mobility we’re living in. As a consequence we’re asked to rethink our life, our work, how we communicate in order not to be outdated in a 140 characters world.

A word in 140 characters ? Why not. Time is speeding up, messages and thoughts are divided up. “Now” is more important than what lasts, reaction and context than content and capitalizing. When everything’s fast, the only way to understand the future is to have one’s two feet in the moving present, and information above 140 characters is useless since it will be outdated before having been used.

Sorry, but I don’t buy it.

If we take some time to look at twitter and how people use it, if we try to understand what we really find valuable, it appears that we’re facing :

– the expression in 140 characters of an information relying on a larger amount of previously acquired knowledge put into context.

– a summary of a larger content with a link to it.

When talking about information or knowledge, we must understand there’s a difference between substance and signal. We’ve been struggling to indentifying and mobilizing the right substance because of a lack of signal for decades but, now we have efficient tools to deliver signals, we must not focus on it and forget the sunstance and the fact we still need to create and improve it.

We communicate, stimulate, react in 140 characters but to do so we still need to think in more than 140 characters.

Our world is not and won’t be a 140 characters world and neither will enterprises. On the other hand these 140 characters will wake all our knowledge more easy to harness to decide, act and adapt faster. Forgetting that the signal needs something to feed it, something to point at may have detrimental consequences.