Twitter is extending its character count to 280 from the famously concise 140 character limit. The company wants people to tweet more and it thinks by eliminating the need to be so brief it will encourage more tweets. Twitter also hopes users will be able to add nuance to their tweets, given the expanded capacity.
With the move Twitter recognizes the limits of brevity, but also still emphasizes brevity’s upside. (Some people believe a nuanced idea really needs a paragraph — or 2paragraphs — to carry real weight and yet still be brief enough to respect people’s time.) Brevity is a gift to the reader, right up until it fails to adequately convey its message — then brevity is a hindrance. The best case for brevity we know comes from a quote that’s usually attributed to Thomas Jefferson, who once wrote something like: “I’m sorry this letter is so long — if I’d had more time it would be shorter.” Twitter knows people don’t have “more time,” so the company is allowing users to be more Jeffersonian.