The Art of Brevity

Sharp Colour by SFB579, from Flickr.comThere’s been a great deal of teeth-gnashing and wringing-of-hands lately about social media and its supposed impact on deep thinking and considered argument formation, let alone relationship development.  These (largely groundless) concerns miss a crucial aspect of deep thinking: clarity and brevity.  Any guide to writing a PhD will emphasise the need for succinctness of argument. Any guide to debating or political effectiveness will focus on clear delivery of ideas and accountability.  Social media give us the opportunity to improve our skills in communication of ideas, and provide us with a series of platforms for concise, rational idea sharing.

This is not to say that we need to communicate all content via twitter.  We just need to develop better skills at directing one another to channels for communication and debate that are appropriate to any analysis exercise.  We also need to be braver in our articulation of correlations, and in defending of hypotheses. But there is no reason to assume that short form messaging is in any way affecting our capacity to construct rational argument.

Brevity is at least, a skill, and probably an art. As humans seeking more effective communication and cooperation, we should be improving our capacity for brevity, not shunning it.

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