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140 character Twitter mystery – the answer October 12, 2009

Posted by Anand Mallaya in internet, social media, technology, web.
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In the previous post we have looked at anatomy of a tweet to find answers to the 140 character mystery. It quite nagged me for a while. My geek mind was losing to find an explanation. Today I found a solution. It has nothing to do with the twitter protocols probably, but some thing simpler. Twitter was created with a goal of a simple interface for near-real time communication. With a ubiquitous access to the service.

They gave all kind of user interfaces, like a web based one for web browser users,  APIs for web application developers- so that developers can create applications easily, and for mobile phones through text messages.

Guess what? Now you may have got a clue.

The text message or SMS was a protocol initially designed to optimally use the telephony based GSM mobile technology. The key idea for SMS was to use this telephony-optimized system and to transport messages on the signaling paths needed to control the telephony traffic during time periods when no signaling traffic existed. The message length was limited by the signalling protocol used at that time. Initially it was 128 bytes and later changed to 140 bytes length.

Now Twitters’ designers may have also targetted text message users, the most widely used data application on the planet.

SMS user stats

SMS user stats

Hence my answer.

To find the real answer we need to contact Twitter engineers..

Phew I will get a good sleep today :p