Brevity and The Telegraph

The first instant long distance communication method was the telegraph. Telegraph literally means 'far writing' in much the same way as telephone means 'far sound.' The telegraph naturally lent itself to short communications. Telegraph messages were sent in Morse code as the electronic telegraph was essentially a binary device, unable to sent the alphabet. The first Morse code, developed in the 1830's didn't even have any lower case or punctuation.
Naturally, this led to a certain type of communication. To form a letter required many more symbols than the letter itself, this also had to be translated at the other side. Each telegraph also had to carry with it the addressee. The time it took to type a telegraph thus multiplied exponentially with it's length and so most telegraphs carried only a couple of dozen characters. The first telegraph, Morse's own simply read 'WHAT HATH GOD WROUGHT'

A letter takes days to arrive, and at the beginning of the 19th century, often weeks. What was written had to be well considered and thorough. The next communication would not be for sometime and so a writer would have to consider all that might want to be said. With the telegraph, communication became instantaneous and words could be sent that were thought of in much the same manner, without the same level of consideration put in to sending vital pieces of information.

The telegraph only enjoyed a brief period at the forefront of communication technology before the phone took over. The telephone was faster and easier to use. No translation or indeed any kind of writing was necessary, and so much more information could be carried faster down the telephone wires than down the telegraph wires. The final telegraph was sent in 1999 to president Bill Clinton. It was 95 words and took 8 minutes to copy. An almost laughable amount of time.

What the telegraph left us with was a fundamental understanding that text takes a long time to copy, read and translate, and so less is more. Text takes time to writ and read. The brain is capable of translating information much faster than the eyes can read or the hand can write and so text is trimmed down to the most vital elements. It serves better than voice or images because of our ability to flash edit and skim as we read. Unlike a voice message or a video, text allows you to subconsciously read ahead and skip pieces, absorbing only the most relevant parts. Whether you like it or not, your eye does it for you. So we trim them down, saving our reader from further cognitive load by trimming out the non-vital pieces for them. How long before text becomes so shortened, abbreviated and streamlined that an entirely new communication method is born from the pictures we translate as words?