Writing Inside (The Very Small) Box

According to Joseph Addison, she who hesitates is lost. Or at least gets her ideas trumped in the blogosphere. I had been formulating a post about Twitter limits and their positive effect on my pre-writing thought-process when I came across this post by Jennifer Alvey, a recovering lawyer, writer and editor who loves new technology (gee, that sounds familiar, except for the “recovering” part).

Although Alvey has not yet joined the Twitterati, she praises the 140-character limit that forces unnatural discipline upon lawyers famous for excessively verbose wordiness.  Alvey also comments on Huffington Post’s Rachel Sklar’s love of the medium and her description of the “haiku-like restrictions” as great training for writers.

It is rare that I can slap down a Twitter entry without first paying attention to how best to formulate an idea that initially presents much larger than 140 characters. When writing an article or memorandum or even a blog post, I can casually skip this step because the consequences are not as dire: there is no little “box” that mercilessly cuts off the end of my sentence, often with a cruel mid-word amputation. In traditional writing, I can allow the words to flow free-form, later returning to my written product with the editor’s eye. In theory, there is nothing wrong with this traditional, time-honored process. However, in reality, constraints imposed by deadlines, a heavy workload and the reality that there are only 24 hours in a day may tempt the writer, o.k. ME, to shorten the editing process instead.

Twitter forces a different technique, one that, if properly mastered, will yield a more efficient writing experience. So, I guess I will stick to my Twitter-ing and feel good about all the positive work I am doing to improve my writing. And I will give myself a personal high-five every time I write the perfect thought while staying inside the box.

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iPhone Envy? Visual Voicemail and Transcription for the Apple-Impaired

Yes, its the iPhone again. One of its features that gets me excited is visual voicemail. Of course, you can get this great feature without having to shell out hundreds to ATT. Visual voicemail affords a visual interface that allows users to view audio voicemail messages by text list or to read transcriptions of the voicemail. I know that I often let voicemails linger as I don’t always want to take the time to access, listen and then listen again while I write down everything I missed the first time. So, visual voicemail is a winner feature for me.

Ken Purdy at Lifehacker reports on free visual voicemail services and paid transcription services. Purdy focuses on YouMail and MessageSling and includes lots of great screen shots of what your visual voicemail and transcription will look like with these services.

There are otherS offering similar services on the Web. From Wikipedia, these include:

Callwave Multi-Carrier Voicemail Desktop integration (No longer free version as of 9/16/2008)
GotVoice Provider of Voicemail to Text and Voicemail to Email services
Onebox Provider of Voicemail to Text, Voicemail to Email, & UM services
PhoneTag Provider of Voicemail to E-Mail services (formerly called Simulscribe)
Silent Communication Visual Voicemail Client for handset
Taridium – vendor of Unified Voicemail solutions for the enterprise
VoiceCloud Human transcribed Voice to Text services

If you are like me and like to read your information rather than hear it, check out these great apps! If anyone has a favorite, I would love to know.

You Can Tweet …. or You Can Tumbl-r

Twitter is so … 2007. If you need to be on the crest of the next great on-line social net, maybe Tumblr is your answer. Tumblr is another blogging site that is slightly less “micro” than Twitter. While it is missing some of the extra extras that traditional blogging sites offer, it does allow easy customization and the ability to share all sorts of media, such as video, links, photos, music and other recordings. Like Twitter, Tumblr is free. Unlike Twitter, you are not limited to 140 characters per post. Tumblr, with its easy sign-up and interface, seems a great option for those interested in beginning blogging. Try it out today!