This past Wednesday I was spoke to a PR class at my alma mater, Niagara College. I love school. Honestly, if I won the lottery, I would (eventually) end up back in learning the craziest things in different places all around the world. But, I digress.

Teaching is always a wonderful experience, if you love the subject you are talking about and you have a good audience. I, of course, spoke about the two things I know professionally: social media and PR. I had a blast, sharing some of the wonderful examples of how amazing social media is (both online and offline). The picture inset is the thoughtful thank you gift they gave me.

Of course, as I was driving home, I thought of a whole bunch of other stuff I wish I had time to share with them; I probably could have talked for days. But it wasn’t until today, while using Twitter, that I saw another glaring comparison to a class assignment from when I was studying public relations.

I think it’s safe to say that Twitter is one of the fastest growing communities out there. And, most people agree, one of the greatest features of Twitter is that you can’t write anything that’s over 140 characters long. I believe its popularity is largely due to that fact – people don’t have the time (or patience) to sit and read (or write) long articles anymore. In essence, these short little updates provide convenience for users.

However, it is quite a skill to be able to communicate effectively within that limitation.

Which brings me to my class assignment from 3 years ago. We had to rewrite book and movie reviews to be six words long, exactly six words long. It was a tough task, as we were docked marks for ‘filler’ words (mostly adjectives).

Shortly after that assignment, a Wired article (one of the most memorable to me) was published where they asked various authors to write a story in just six words. Wired wrote that Hemingway‘s best work was a story that was just that length (For sale: baby shoes, never worn.) Had I not done that assignment, I probably wouldn’t have appreciated the article as much.

And perhaps I wouldn’t have appreciated Twitter that much either. I wonder if people who use it frequently have learned to be more concise in their regular, daily communications. Perhaps people who enjoy Twitter are already concise communicators. Perhaps being concise isn’t the main point at all; instead, it’s making sure that we are communicating effectively by using each word to its fullest potential.

Hat tip to Mrs. Geddie, former instructor, for being way ahead of the curve.

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9 Comments

  1. Rex

    Wow, brutal grammatical mistake in the first sentence.

    Made me stop reading, sorry.

  2. Yup, it was brutal but it’s fixed now. Thanks for pointing it out!

    z

  3. The 12 second challenge today is to tell a story in 6 words….

    In light of your blog post…lets see you tell a story in 6 words :)

    http://www.12seconds.tv

  4. @amie thanks for the heads up – I just posted my video: http://12seconds.tv/channel/zoeDisco/90100

  5. Trinidad Carnival: Faye-Ann, J’ourvert, Radica, McFarlane.
    Ok so this is a really tough assignment that forces you to really search for the right meaning. Most of you will not know what my 6 words mean so let me give it some context. Trinidad Carnival takes place every year and culminates in 2 days of a street festival before Ash Wednesday. The six words I chose made the cut for the following reasons..first 2 obvious…Faye-Ann is an incredible performer whose name would have been Madonna or Aretha in another genre. She owned this year’s Carnival. J’ourvert, French for the opening (I think) which is the start of the street Festival, where people come out of their bed from 4 in the morning and are intoxicated by rum and or music. J’ourvert is the great leveller where corporate suits and couriers drink from the same pot. (and sometimes it is pot) Radica is a girl most of us met for the first time about 2 weeks before the street parade. She came into our life because she left someone else’s life and he was telling us about her in his song. The chap, a Mr. Salick, will never write a better song. The public will not let him. “Oy yo yo yo, Radica why you leave and go” did more for race relations in Trinidad than anything I can think of with its Indoness seeping into our Trinidadianess. McFarlane is visual artist who is famous on the island for his design and decor and his Mas. This year he brought Africa to Trinidad at the same time that Salick brought India. Six words. if I could add one more it would be: Heaven.

  6. I was hoping you title was an homage to my one of my all-time favourites: “Weird” Al Yankovic!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sppRrbtxVD0

  7. zoe

    you can find some comfort in knowing that you have now stuck that song in my head. :)

    z

  8. Wow that was odd. I just wrote an extremely long comment on http://socialmediagroup.com/2009/02/09/this-titles-just-six-words-long but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t show up. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again. Regardless, just wanted to say great blog!

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