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July 28, 2009

Twitter, circa 100 BC

I hate Twitter. I think it is one of the stupidest, most over-hyped things on the internet. I refuse to get an account. In a few months, the company will run out of money--they have absolutely no business model--and Twitter will fold and I will be laughing at all my friends with BlackBerries (my former co-Viewpoints Editor, of course, excluded).

But, on the other hand, I do kind of like ultra-short-form writing. A few years ago my father brought home a book of short stories all written in less than six sentences. It was brilliant! It was original! It was so tantalizing! Having such stringent length constraints forces you to really choose what you say carefully--it forces you to pay attention to things like diction, structure, and syntax in ways that you don't otherwise. In other words, it forces you to pay attention to writing. My hatred of Twitter notwithstanding, I really love reading texts from last night--partly out of voyeurism, but also partly because a lot of the stuff is really cleverly written.

All of this is just a roundabout way of linking to an article. In The Smart Set, Morgan Meis argues that Twitter and texting are heralding the return of the classical epigram, and compares Twitter updates to the Roman writer Martial's witticisms. (Except she does so without sounding pretentious.)