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Be Clear. Be Brief. But come back…often.

So I’ve spoken briefly about Twitter in the past. I am still observing the form to understand its place in the overall ecosystem of social networking…and I heard recently that Strunk & White just released a 50th Anniversary Edition of the Elements of Style. To me, it was the perfect collision of old and new…and I wonder how solid priniciples of the past will continue to evolve to the future.

 

I find that I refer to the “little book” less often now given all the informal ways we communicate these days. It’s more of a meditative read now than it was when I was in college when one had literally hours to put forth an idea. The lesson I have taped to my computer screen: “Omit needless words.” (Clearly something I still wrestle with.)

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I wouldn’t be a genuine English Major if I didn’t pause a moment and reflect upon its influence on me and the world. I bought a used copy for about $.50 along with my $95 text books (let’s just say…) several years ago. It is well loved and now held together by a rubber band and much tape…not unlike many software applications out there. :-)

 

 strunk1

 strunk2

 strunk3

50th Anniversary Edition

Illustrated Edition

Original

(Text to the Original Edition of 1918)

 

Writing Examples:

Macbeth was very ambitious. This led him to wish to become king of Scotland. The witches told him that this wish of his would come true. The king of Scotland at this time was Duncan. Encouraged by his wife, Macbeth murdered Duncan. He was thus enabled to succeed Duncan as king.

Encouraged by his wife, Macbeth achieved his ambition and realized the prediction of the witches by murdering Duncan and becoming king of Scotland in his place.

 

(51 words)

(26 words)

 

 

Which brings me to my point, and I do have one:

Brevity (which should not be confused with clarity) is a solid principle toward effective communication. Twitter forces brevity, but invites volume.

 

How has Twitter changed the way you “follow” information?

Share some pointers to people you follow on Twitter and why they are interesting.

What is the main value of this form of communication or staying in touch?

About the Author: Christine Haskell

Christine is a Senior Program Manager at Microsoft with several years experience in the .com industry. She recently started social venture labs, an idea incubator for those leading small mission-driven businesses or organizations looking to create relationships, share ideas and [...]

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