Twitter Haiku: Rich Lesson of Imposed Brevity


Twitter and cell phone text messaging (<= 140 characters) have us expressing ourselves in sound bytes, sharpening our writing chops and communicating more whilst using many less words. It’s nothing short of cultural revolution, as our increasingly plugged-in populace evolves to more succinct communication.  In  my opinion this efficiency serves to counter ever-escalating online cacophony.

6 days ago while plugged into the daily work grind Twitter-grid, I caught a tweet from respected SEO Michael Gray (@graywolf) which still has me thinking. He tweeted, “if you learn to be brief clear and easy to understand Twitter becomes very powerful even with the 140 character limit. In the next few minutes as we chatted briefly, he likened the process to skills required to write a Haiku.


Haiku is an epigrammatic Japanese verse crafted of three short lines with restrictive syllabic syntax. Yet some of the most beautiful poetry on earth flows from within the imposing structural requirements. Take these classic examples:

Cedar umbrellas, off
to Mount Yoshimo for
the cherry blossoms.
Basho, (1644 – 1694)

An exhausted sparrow
in the midst
of a crowd of children.
Issa, (1763 – 1827)

I’ve noticed that the hidden value in honing social news bookmarking skills, like Digg or Sphinn, are laser sharpened writing instincts. The same Tao of personal growth from restrictive syntax, holds completely true for Micro-blogging. The core skill necessary for Twitter & texting is brevity. Chatting in bite size chunks forces a writer to eliminate unneeded and voluminous verbosity, a valuable lesson for any artist.

Evan a random look at the Twitter public timeline is always an adventure in literary austerity. Refresh your browser repeatedly and have a gander at compound and poetic concepts packaged in these tiny little tweets.

  • @thegolfblog Faldo said he can’t see phil as repeatable with swing flaw in lower legs
  • @23NorthStreet My mom used to hold me too tight after drinking, calling me my dead father’s name.
  • @leamichelle INTERNET, I did not ask you to go all slow like a retarded hippo; it is time to make like an Emeril and KICK IT UP A NOTCH

You get the picture. Twitter and cell phone text messaging, with their built <= 140 character limitations, have us chatting in bite size nuggets. It’s a whole new art form unto itself. Even more importantly, the ability to communicate more with less is a writing skill which serves well in this age of data overload.

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