Here’s a start-up idea that I’m putting out there to be stolen (even though it will make somebody US$ 100 billion).

Speckle is a social media platform, for seriously short messages. Addresses, tags, and other encrustations are tucked away into the margins of each message, along with URLs, which can be anchored in the text by a single character. That leaves exactly 14 characters for each ‘speck’ demanding extreme linguistic compression, making innovation of efficient neologisms, jargons, and acronymics near-mandatory. (It’s a T-shirt slogan or simple gravestone inscription length format.) Total information content for each speck comes to roughly 10 bytes, or a few more if exotic signs are imaginatively employed. Absolutely no pictures or other high-bandwidth media are tolerated.

Within five years, when the micromedia landscape has been speckled, a tweet will look about as concise as the Summa Theologica once did.

February 7, 2014admin 18 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Technology


18 Responses to this entry

  • Aaron Says:


    I’m sorry, I tried to read the entire post but I’m not made of steel.


    Posted on February 7th, 2014 at 4:30 pm Reply | Quote
  • Lesser Bull Says:

    Gd tht, gd lck


    Posted on February 7th, 2014 at 5:49 pm Reply | Quote
  • Alex Says:

    Can’t wait for Mencius Moldbug’s first speck.


    Lesser Bull Reply:

    It will have the world’s longest hashtag off in the margins.


    Posted on February 7th, 2014 at 5:53 pm Reply | Quote
  • VXXC Says:

    I wonder if I have a chance.


    Posted on February 7th, 2014 at 7:34 pm Reply | Quote
  • syntaxfree Says:

    Wait — first you tell me Twitter is too short for Q&A — but tweets are already too verbose for the next original ideas?


    admin Reply:

    Both are indeed true (although the latter part is a re-wording I wouldn’t have chosen myself).

    Speckle isn’t for discussion, but for an emerging dominant language practice we are still only hazily glimpsing.


    Posted on February 7th, 2014 at 7:48 pm Reply | Quote
  • Valvar Says:

    Isn’t the intent of condensing information to actually increase the total bandwidth? Upper limits increase the amount of bandwidth each node produces. 140 characters might be the sweet spot, but we won’t know until we have performed science.


    Posted on February 7th, 2014 at 8:05 pm Reply | Quote
  • Orthodox Says:

    Why not learn Chinese and migrate to Weibo.


    Posted on February 8th, 2014 at 12:17 am Reply | Quote
  • pseudo-chrysostom Says:

    this reminds me of a half crazed idea i once had one potential aberrations language might have gone through if the constitution had included a page limit on bill drafts.

    just how much can be crammed into a small space, and how? i imagine it would be highly initiatory in style (like all language to some degree though), using alot of metaphor in the sub-text.


    admin Reply:

    “Half-crazed” as that idea might be, I think it’s good. Long laws are bad laws.


    Posted on February 8th, 2014 at 6:26 am Reply | Quote
  • spandrell Says:

    Language meaning is context dependent. The smaller the language input, the more shared context you need to make sense of it.
    As far as I can see, urbanization, smartphones and the increasing variety in entertainment options means that on average we are getting less shared context than in the past, so we need longer utterances to make ourselves understood, as we can’t rely on shared context for people to get a reference.


    admin Reply:

    That makes perfect sense, but it isn’t what we’re seeing. (Or do you really think micromedia message compression has peaked?)


    spandrell Reply:

    The vast majority of Twitter users aren’t using it to communicate, but to follow celebrities or advertise something. People communicate with chat applications and you’d be amazed how non-micro their utterances get to be there.

    Weibo used to be quite social, in that people actually used it to follow their friends and talk to each other, yet it’s dying all the same, with wechat picking up the rests. Also many Chinese prefer to use voice chat than typing, and obviously voice is more information-dense that text.

    So yes, message compression has peaked and public display I think has also peaked. People are leaving Twitter and Facebook and will only chat in private. People have seen the internet mob and they don’t like it.


    Posted on February 8th, 2014 at 8:25 am Reply | Quote
  • Bryce Laliberte Says:

    I’m seriously considering it. Or at least seriously considering proposing the idea to a programmer friend.

    Speckle would not replace all other forms of social interaction, but as used by a very specific community *coughs* it could facilitate very rapid language development *coughs again*.

    It would never replace Twitter, but then Twitter never replaced Facebook.


    Posted on February 8th, 2014 at 11:20 pm Reply | Quote
  • VXXC Says:

    How about Spackled Historical Moments? As in – Foggy Bottom – “Fuck Them”

    1941 – British Gold – Fuck them.
    1943 – George Wallace to USSR [off ticket]. Fuck Him
    1961 -Still – Congo – George Ball “Fuck Them”
    1963 – after finishing his round of Golf, George Ball pronounces Death Sentence: Fuck the Diems.
    1963-1975 – Vietnam. Fuck them
    Still — Vietnam Vets – Fuck them.

    2003 – Procounsul not named: Iraqi Army&Baath Party – Fuck them.
    2003-2007 They Fuck Back
    2013 – Urkraine. “Fuck The Eu”

    I’ve got your Speckle: Fuck*.*


    Posted on February 9th, 2014 at 1:23 am Reply | Quote
  • Manjusri Says:

    14 characters? That’s plenty if your specks are in hanzhi.


    Posted on February 11th, 2014 at 9:02 pm Reply | Quote
  • Nick B. Steves Says:

    2^80 ~= 1.2×10^24 should be more than enough different possible messages. If any sort of selection for those who can communicate this way, we’ll eventually develop a master race of humans who can store very large codebooks in their heads for quick access.


    Posted on April 11th, 2014 at 8:36 pm Reply | Quote

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