“Brevity is the soul of wit.”
- William Shakespeare
‘I figured the shorter the book, the less bullshit.”
- Stephen King
Everyone wants us to be brief.
Keep it short.
But let’s remember that Stephen King’s last book 11/22/63 was 880 pages long. And Shakespeare’s works total 884,647 words in all.
And, let’s face it, brilliant as he was, Nietzsche was bat-shit crazy.
Is shorter really better?
Of course not. All you need to do is look at Moby-Dick, War and Peace, Our Mutual Friend and the Holy Bible to know that elegant, brilliant writing can often be quite wordy.
Yet in social media we’re being forced to get shorter and shorter. First there were blogs that reduced thinking to paragraphs rather than pages. Followed by Facebook which reduced writing from paragraphs to sentences. And then Twitter which reduced sentences to words.
Are we really better off communicating like this?
Now we have a new wave of brevity thrust upon us in the form of Snapchat and Twitter’s new Vine app – short-form videos formats that are measured in seconds rather than minutes.
Six seconds to be exact.
No doubt there will be a ton of uses for Vine – which is already gathered up steam in the social media world as the next big thing (although it took a big hit when one of the most popular uses quickly became pornography).
Expect a wave of six-second videos making a splash at SXSW this year. Expect a plethora of new case studies about innovative ways brands are using short videos to attract customers and increase awareness, buzz and engagement.
But as we boldly jumped into the next big thing it might be time to take a moment to wonder if shorter is really better.
Does reducing marketing, advertising and communication to its minimalist roots undermine our ability to actually connect? Does brevity force us to lose context and clarity? Is misunderstanding and misinterpretation a natural consequence of our rush to be brief?
And the biggest question of all. Does brevity lead to tiny thinking?
Business Insider article “How to Use Vine”