“OMG!” A Silicon Valley web start-up is shifting the micro-blogging movement into hyper gear with its launch this week of hhrmp.com, a “hyper-micro” blogging site that limits posts to just 5 characters.
“At this point in the evolution of social media, the 140-character limit of Twitter is just too big,” says Jeremy Gliner, whose title is chief hhrmp’er at hhrmp! Media. “Today’s teenagers have grown up on Twitter, Snapchat, and other micro-blogging platforms and they want their own thing. And they don’t want to compose anything that resembles a sentence. Given the success of our beta site with this critical demographic, we feel we’re giving this up-and-coming generation of word-economizers what they want.”
A quick check with a group of 19- and 20-year-olds outside Hillsdale College in College Park, Md., appears to bear out Gliner’s assessment. “Twitter was okay when we were, like, sixteen and stuff, but I know I’m totally sick of having to compose a sentence or two just to let my friends know what I’m doing,” says Lilla Sneals, a sophomore at this picturesque college five miles outside Washington, D.C.
“You can say a lot in five characters,” says Del Burns, an engineering major at the college. “’Gawk,’ ‘roar,’ ‘f**k.’ I don’t know why anyone has to have 140 characters. That’s like an essay.”
Gliner says the five-character limit is a challenge to be as concise as possible and kids today are up for that challenge. “It forces you to be hyper-concise in your communications,” he says. “No one wants to plod through 140 characters just to learn you’re at Starbucks drinking your coffee. All you have to say is ‘java’ and everyone knows what you mean.”
“It works well when you’re on your way to class and you want to set up a date or something for later that night,” says Tim Ronners. “Like, just yesterday I posted to my Hhrmp! feed that I was free for dinner by just saying ‘pigo?’ for ‘pig out’ and everyone knew what I meant. When a couple people responded with ‘ok’ or ‘shtye,’ I just said ‘7max’ for ‘Max’s at 7 p.m.’ and, boom, it was done.”
Tamila Combe says she’s never liked writing and the 140 characters of Twitter have always seemed like a daunting hurdle to her. “It’s not like you have to fill up your 140 characters, but just having that limit reminds me too much of school,” she says. “I mean, if I want to write 140 characters, I might as well be in Shakespeare class or something.”
Gliner wouldn’t disclose how much in start-up investment he’s attracted so far, but he says hhrmp! has touched a nerve among some investor with a strong track record in recognizing the latest and greatest thing on the web. That would include Raymond Tillts, one of the first investors on Smugggglr and Bladdder. Gliner wouldn’t confirm Tillts’ participation, but other sources say his venture capital firm was one of the first to open its wallet.
Not everyone is wishing the company success. “It’s just one more nail in the coffin for literacy and kids’ ability to think in this ever-competitive world,” says Sylvia Jenks, professor of English at Marymount University in Arlington, Va. “What’s next, a one-character limit? What can you say in one character? We might as well just talk in videos from now on.”
That would probably be okay with Gliner, who says the written word is clearly transitioning out. “Let’s rock!” Or, as he might say on hhrmp!, “rk on.”
This is a work of satire. It is a fictional news article not meant to be taken seriously. Photo: fme (Creative Commons). Not necessarily an endorsed use of image.
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