Jeremiah Christopher Whitten: Twitter Needs Shakespeare
Jeremiah Christopher Whitten is a strategic communications expert in Chaska, MN.
...Twitter is at the forefront of the decline of America's patience for prose. The social-media network recently celebrated its sixth birthday with media fanfare and reproductions of the first tweet in history....
In some workplaces, there seems to be an intolerance for eloquence that overrides all other considerations. I once worked for a client who demanded that everything be written in bullet points -- no verbs, adjectives or other parts of speech....
The professional pressure for brevity at the expense of thoughtfulness is expressed perfectly in a PowerPoint satire of the Gettysburg Address, which renders one of the most important speeches in history into six slides. The first full slide reduces all of the nuance, history and eloquence of the speech's opening into: "• Met on battlefield (great) • dedicate portion of field • unfinished work (great tasks)."
While the speech is too long to tweet, it is still an excellent example of "less is more." President Abraham Lincoln actually received second billing when the military cemetery at Gettysburg was dedicated in 1863. He had to wait while Edward Everett, a man history has largely forgotten, spoke for two full hours. Upon finally taking the podium, Lincoln said a mere 272 words -- among the most inspiring ever uttered.
Other historical figures could be recast in the Twitterverse. Winston Churchill was a prolific author who received the Nobel Prize for Literature (in addition to saving the world from Hitler in his spare time). His 43 published books are, of course, beyond tweeting. But Churchill's caustic commentary was astonishing in its brevity and impact....
comments powered by Disqus
- Did a historian who said he’s a victim of McCarthyism get the story wrong?
- Stephanie Coontz’s work on the history of marriage cited by the Supreme Court.
- NYT History Book Reviews: Who Got Noticed this Week?
- David Hackett Fischer wins $100,000 prize for lifetime achievement in military writing