Feature Request: Compress My Tweets

OK, I’m only half joking here, but I’m surprised no one has wired up an app to Twitter that lets you pass compressed/zipped text messages via twitter so you can send messages longer than 140 characters. The community should agree on a convention, for example, let’s say whenever a tweet begins with #ZT: (for zipped tweet), this app would assume the remaining 136 characters were a compressed text string.

Then apps could automagically compress / decompress the characters following the #ZT: , which would then enable tweets much longer than 140 characters since text compresses pretty well. Sure, you’d see a bunch of garbage text strings passing through your twitter stream when folks you follow choose to use this convention, but that would part of the fun of it, since only insider geeks would know what they would need to do to follow those (literally) cryptic conversations.

Has anyone out there built this? Seems like it would be pretty simple to do…

  • Ben

    That's a good idea but text will really only compress well for files that start getting larger than 1kb or so. I tried compressing the first 140 characters of your post using the basic Windows compression tool and the final file size ended up being 225 bytes, a 60% increase.

    Really though, abbreviations like OMG or TTYL are compression. They take a common, reused piece of text and give a shorter predefined representation to it.

  • There's the basis of a good idea in here for a premium service ($19.95 a month?) that Twitter could offer… using Twitter to carry just header and URI info for larger messages that can be read in a separate (Twemium?) feed…

    I'm sure someone at Twitter has to be thinking about this…

  • wouldn't that just go against the zen art and philosophy of tweeting? the ability to filter a thought and play with words to maximize output in the most concise way is lost on way too many people these days. i find joy in getting a number of my tweets to exactly 140 when i have to edit down and paraphrase my thoughts. it's rather satisfying in a geeky sort of way. art of tweeting is like art of haiku in a techy way. make it count, meaningful, and humorous in a limited space, but don't give a cheat for chatterboxes who can't make a point. i'm less inclined to click on a link if it has no informative descrption. after all, your tweet got me here didn't it?

    or maybe you just need a “to be continued in next tweet…” code for >140 – keep 'em in suspense, i say.

    • i too enjoy whittling a message down to 140 characters. while folks complain about the inanity of twitter (and some of it surely is), twitter has also enhanced the pithiness of messaging, which is great.

      my compression idea was really more of a joke. but one of the cool things about twitter is how user conventions have evolved (RT, OH, #hashtags) without any guidance from twitter. and so the idea of completely bastardizing it by sending compressed non-human readable text through twitter made me laugh.

  • daryll

    Seems a lot like trying to push a square peg through a round hole.

    At some point people are going to realize that Twitter's service is really flawed in a LOT of ways. They have shown that having publicly accessible broadcasts of short information is useful. All the hash tags, @replies, multiple logins, 140 character limits, etc. are really workarounds for flaws in the architecture.

    What really needs to happen is for someone to start a better service and tie people's twitter accounts in to it to make for an easy transition.

  • OK, the best comment to this came via a comment on facebook from my friend Dave Jilk:

    Rather than compress, the tweet should just reference a URL that contains the “full” tweet, e.g., “#uncompress http://bit.ly/asdf“. The “writer” side would generate this, the “reader” side would just display the contents of the URL (which would presumably be a blog post or similar).

    This would have the advantage of allowing a tweet of unlimited size and mixed media types, and it is also more human readable. Good idea Dave.

    Of course, part of the inherent beauty of twitter is the 140 character limit, and this would destroy that.

    And, ultimately, people passing URL-shortened links via twitter pretty much accomplishes this goal anyway.

  • There was a morse code meme a few weeks back, pretty funny.

  • Tim

    there is a new way of sending text messages greater than 140 characters – email…

  • Jeffrey Powers

    Clearly a highly effective implementation of message shortening was invented for the Flutter prototype. http://bit.ly/DxMnV

  • Rob

    this makes me think of all kinds of fun cipher games that could be played with twitter

  • done 🙂

  • different, but along those lines… http://www.tweetthistext.com/

  • http://www.twitlonger.com/about/ – allows you to tweet something longer than 140. http://tweetshrink.com/ will remove extra “unneeded” characters such as apostrophes and some vowels…

  • Natan V

    Tweet It In has a cool approach. They let you form contractions, add abbreviations, remove vowels, replace ascii pairs like “cc” with single unicode “u33c4”, and shorten links as u type. Check them out:nnhttp://tweetitin.com