Friday, October 19, 2012

140 is the new magic number

Depending upon your culture, certain numbers may have deep significance for you. I am part of a Jewish-Christian culture, in which numbers such as 3, 4, 7, and 12 have certain meanings. For other people, numbers such as twenty seven and forty two are awe-inspiring.

I ran across another number this week that is becoming more and more significant.

I was filling out an online form that consisted of multiple choice answers, plus a comment area associated with each of the answers. For the providers of the form, it was not enough to answer the multiple choice questions; they also wanted you to provide a certain amount of commentary in the comments spaces.

How did the form providers decide how much commentary was enough commentary?

According to the form, if the total of all comment text exceeded 140 characters, then the commentary was sufficient.

There are probably other examples of how the number 140, originally conceived based upon delivery of text messages via a single online service, is influencing all sorts of things.
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