What makes Twitter the world’s most effective communication medium? It’s the constraint of squeezing your thoughts into very few words.
In his book Things a Little Bird Told Me, Biz Stone (co-founder of Twitter) writes —
It was the constraint of the two-week hackathon that led to the creation of Twitter. One of the first decisions we made about Twitter, something that never changed, was that each message would be limited to 140 characters or fewer.
Although Twitter has now relaxed that limit to 280 characters, the idea remains the same – imposing an artificial constraint.
Stone explains —
Constraint inspires creativity. Blank spaces are difficult to fill, but the smallest prompt can send us in fantastic new directions. In business, constraints emerge from the time you have to finish a project, the money you have to invest in it, the people you have to build it, or the space to you have complete it. These limitations, counterintuitively, can actually enhance productivity and creativity.
Many professional soccer players practice with a ball in a small bathroom sized room. The self-imposed constraint of a small space helps them refine their skills. World class poets and writers shrink their field by using restrictive measures to force themselves into a small creative form – such as micro-writing exercise.