Brevity Enmity

I was delighting in the culture of a company I was working with recently. When it comes to email, they approach it like text messaging. Particularly in the early stages of the project, I received no mails longer than a single sentence.

I naturally applauded such concise dealings. They never transgressed onto the brusque and often made me chuckle on receipt.

It was in such stark contrast to a project I’d worked on prior to this. In that case, emails would need scroll after scroll. Probably thousands of words long. And not really go anywhere. The time and effort must have been frightening for so little impact. And there was no impact. It can be tricky to know how to respond to a mail akin to a thesis.

So I tried to show how a change would improve matters. I dropped this famous quote from the depths of my sixth form memory;

I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.

The Americans are history’s worst revisionists. In every war movie they alone win every war. They wrongly claim that Frenchman Clement Ader wasn’t the first to achieve flight. And they attribute this quote to Mark Twain.

This could well be another apocrypha. I was hoping it would be from the sage that was Samuel Johnson, once turned down for a job at my old alma mater. Alas, my own jingoism needed a check. Is it really the 1657 wisdom of homme de génie, Blaise Pascal?

I have made this letter longer than usual because I lack the time to make it shorter.

The concept is clear. Whatever you write, you need time to make it shorter. Give it a bigger bang. Banish the rubbish and make it stick.

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