Go Forth And Keep It Short : Blog Of The Nation Ryan Bigge celebrates the time-honored tradition of brevity. Tweet on!
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Go Forth And Keep It Short

Have you seen the venerable Guardian's headline today?

Twitter switch for Guardian, after 188 years of ink

* Newspaper to be available only on messaging service

* Experts say any story can be told in 140 characters

Ok, in case your heart skipped a beat or your blood pressure rose, relax and check your calendar. Back with me now? Ok. Twitter's been getting some heat (jumped the shark, where "vapidity rules," riddled with ghosts) lately. But the New York Times' ideas blogger -- Tom Kuntz -- found Ryan Bigge's brief history of brevity. It's impossible for me to summarize (funny, right? A long, complex article on conciseness?), there is no pithy paragraph to excerpt. Instead, here's my favorite modern example of dazzling brevity.

Another, more profane, but no less compelling example of effective terseness appears in the first season of The Wire. In episode four, two homicide detectives re-investigate a six-month-old apartment crime scene on a hunch. This sounds bland and straightforward, except the dialogue between the two cops involves variations on the f-word, and nothing else, for four minutes. Just as with Mandarin, a language that relies upon inflection in pitch to make the same syllable convey different meanings, actors Wendell Pierce and Dominic West turn the word around in their mouths, using it to register disgust, anger, frustration and surprise. And without any exposition, the viewer is able to understand how a vital piece of evidence was overlooked.

Here's the scene. And here's to Twitter!