The 140 char emails – Part 1

There was a time when bandwidth was limited, people used to be online occasionally maybe once a day, download all their e-mails, read them and later, maybe even the next day, get online again and send them all at once.

Later came faster and flat connections, many of us had access from their desktops in the office or had a xDSL connection at home, a bit pricey, but still cheaper than paying for phone calls (at least those of us that did not live in the USA). We started using e-mail more regularly for more and more things. Removing unnecessary characters to save data was not a problem anymore (have you ever read the netiquette?).
We started attaching small files and then Word documents and presentations (when was the last time you received a 10MB powerpoint file? I think I got the last one yesterday). Many started using HTML and e-mail clients shipped a text-only version and a rich HTML version. Space was not a problem any more.

E-mail communications became longer and longer, sometimes replaced meetings.

This is all great, in many cases we can participate or just follow discussions from our desk, using only one finger to scroll up and down and read entire threads in a few minutes.

Now e-mail is bloated, it is not as slow as standard mail as delivery is almost immediate, but replies often arrive a few days later, simply because our inboxes are cluttered, e-mails are long to read and often involve complex tasks that will result in longer e-mail replies.

Maybe it’s just me, maybe my e-mails are too long and intricate, but I noticed that often a quick DM or @ in Twitter gives me a reply more quickly than a nicely written e-mail.

Why is that?
It’s the constraint. Twitter limits you to 140 characters, your messages have to be short, straight to the point, no introduction, no examples, no half-company CC’s. “John can you give me X?”

Is there something to learn from this?