Friday, August 14, 2009

Thanks to Maxitweet, 140 characters no longer Twitter limit!

A new service, called Maxitweet, seems to have found a way to extend the limit of your tweets to beyond 140 characters. Read on...

CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND: Type "140 characters" into Twitter's search box and the resulting tweets come flooding in -- predictably the majority of them lamenting this constraint. A new Twitter service, has found a way around the restriction by clever use of letter-like symbols called Unicode characters.

"Maxitweets" are up to 200 characters long, an increase of nearly 50 percent, and have opened up new possibilities for the fast growing Twitter communications platform.

For example, tweeted recipes ("twecipes") are easier to read with the extra space available. A number of poets have also responded enthusiastically. A limerick aficionado, who had given up on trying to tweet the humorous five-liners because they tend to be around 180 characters long, now posts them several times a day as @limerik. And breaking news services -- among the more prominent users of Twitter -- are able to tweet the news item, rather than just a link to it.

How does it work?
Twitter caters for users in many countries and therefore transmits in a universal font language called "Unicode." It contains over 100,000 glyphs in hundreds of languages. Maxitweet was the first to realize that glyphs resembling two or more normal letters can help to transmit text more efficiently.

In the word "lions," for example, two characters are saved by replacing the vowels with a Cyrillic letter resembling "io," followed by the Unicode symbol for nanosecond "ns."

"We spent weeks combing through thousands of glyphs in many languages -- Cyrillic, Thai, Arabic, Hiragana," says Wytze Hoekstra, project manager at FrisianStyle Productions, which runs "We then wrote a javascript engine that compresses text in the background and delivers a user-friendly experience."

Will the new limit improve the Twitter experience? Even though 140 was enough to produce many memorable tweets, like those collected by -- "Museum for the Art of Micro-Elegance" -- it remains to be seen whether the expanded limit will take Twitter to new heights. Some say 140 characters is too many. "I'd only call about 30 of them 'characters.' The other 110 are quite boring." -- Aimee Brock (@Aimee_B_Loved on Twitter).

Perhaps, the argument is best summed up by Jason Shellen (@shellen): "When people ask me about the brevity of Twitter I always tell them 'You can really say a lot in just 140 characters. More than you would th '."

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