I have embraced my iPad as eagerly as anyone, but I do not twitter and will not tweet. It’s not that I disdain brevity of expression. Indeed for almost forty years my Pocket Wine Book has tried to encapsulate the essentials of its field in far shorter phrases than the 120 characters allowed in a tweet. That’s what I call verbosity.
No, it’s not the language I fear for. It’s our minds. Once we had, and thought we needed, a variety of ways to learn the contents of each other’s minds.
Surely this is the whole point of literature. The power and delight of a library is that each book you open is a glimpse into another’s consciousness. Lectures, essays, sermons were formal means of exposition. And the highest means of all was poetry.
Now we have twitter; the thumb-jerk expression of fleeting thoughts. It is pure chance if they have any significance beyond their moment of conception – and transmission. Will some future Jobs or Zuckerberg find a way of validating second thoughts – even third ones? Could there be a shiny new format for joined-up thinking?