Does a tiny box yield tiny thoughts?

Screenshot of the Twitter composition box. Yeah, this is on the desktop and not mobile.

That Twitter composition box. The small field allows for only 280 characters. Is that restricting? I’m a big fan of creativity thriving within imposed limits. You can absolutely be creative within the small confines of the Twitter composition box.

But does that box actually inhibit us in some ways?

There has been so many times where I’m about to tweet something, but instead I type out my tweet in a text document first to see what happens. Most of the time I end up typing a lot more. One example comes to mind.

An example of writing your thoughts in a blog post first, before writing it in Twitter

Apple designed a new type of store in Chicago with a roof that mimics the design of the MacBook. The entire roof over the store was sleek, smooth, and silver. However it also became an ice generating machine in Chicago’s cold winter months. Back then I worked right next door to this store, so I saw them the moment they closed off the outside patio for the danger of ice falling.

I was going to just tweet something about it, but I figured I’d write a blog post, “Design flaw in Apple flagship store“. That post ended up getting picked up by the mass media, and got tens of thousands of views (55,000 pageviews). I even got critiqued by the Chicago Tribune’s architecture critic Blair Kamin.

This all happened because I decided to write a blog post instead of a simple tweet. I guarantee you that tweet would have never gotten the attention of the media. The blog post allowed me to explain the irony of the designed roof functioning in ways Apple did not expect. I had the room in the blog post to explain.

Twitter’s composition box is like a 1.5″ × 2″ sticky note

That tiny little box in Twitter doesn’t give us the full room to keep typing. Yeah, you can make a thread to tell a longer story. But that’s only after you submit one 280 thought. Then you have to fill out another 280 character thought.

It’s like a small sticky note. If you try to write full thoughts on a 1.5″ × 2″ sticky note, you aren’t going to be writing as much. You could potentially fill up ten sticky notes. But man, then you have ten sticky notes that are loosely connected. Instead, if you have a full sheet of paper, you can really flesh out your ideas more, and your brain has the room to feel free.

Thinking of this sticky note metaphor is rather amusing to me, because I am an artist who uses sticky notes as art.

All all these brief messages fit in a small confined space of the sticky note. It’s up to the recipient how to interpret the brief message.

This is a lot like a tweet. A small confined space. Someone writes their brief thoughts into a tweet. It’s up to the reader of the tweet to bring along additional meaning.

But instead of relying on the audience for additional meaning, what if you—the author—want to develop an idea more in depth? You have a small space in a tweet to expand your thoughts and meanings.

Twitter’s composition box is like a fish in a three-gallon aquarium

Think of a fish in a tiny aquarium. Put a fish in a three-gallon aquarium. That fish will stay a small size. But put that fish inside a giant aquarium, then that fish will grow to a larger size.

Twitter’s quantity game

Twitter is all fun with its atomic particles. Quick reads. Mass amount of content. Pure quantity. Sometimes quality. But more of a quantity game.

Maybe Twitter’s quantity game works for some people. If you have a TON of engaged followers, you can tweet a quick thought, and you get a bunch of replies. I have a decent amount of followers whom I greatly appreciate. But Twitter just doesn’t function like that for me. I’d love for Twitter to be a place where I can toss out a quick idea, and let it build up. But that rarely happens.

Instead, I let my ideas build inside a text document where I have the freedom to explore and type more.

I’m curious, if anyone feels the same way

Do you find an open text document lets you explore your thoughts better? Or is Twitter a great way for you to stick an idea out there to get feedback?

More about Twitter versus blog writing

If you like this post, you might appreciate some of my other posts in the same vein:

(this isn’t an auto-generated list, these are hand-picked blog posts that are in the same topic of creating content first in a blog post instead of a social media post)

Conversation between blog posts

This post was inspired by Mike Maddaloni’s blog post, “Why I deleted Twitter“. On his blog post I left a long rambling comment about how Twitter’s constraints can limit our thinking. I cleaned up some of my thoughts from that comment, and made it into this blog post.

This is a great example of how conversations can grow around blog posts.

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