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E-BUSINESS: Why the Dickens is there just no accounting for text appeal.

Byline: CHRIS TOMLINSON

Nobody likes a period drama better then the British.

But if, like me, you suspect that the Dickens, Shakespeare and Austen brigade over intellectualise what are essentially simple plots, then I've found a great SMS service for you.

Student-oriented SMS content provider, Dot Mobile, has decided to offer many of the nation's literary masterpieces as text messages. The idea is to provide an aide-memoire to students who have quite literally lost the plot inside all that flowery language.

As text messages arelimited to around 150 characters, this is quite an achievement. For instance, Pride and Prejudice becomes5Sistrs WntngHsbnds. Nw MeninTwnBingly&Darcy. Fit&Loadd.

BigSis Jane Fals 4B, 2ndSisLiz H8s D Coz Hes Proud. Slimy Soljr Wikam Sys D Hs Shady Past. Trns Out Hes Actuly ARlyNysGuy &RlyFancysLiz. She Decyds She Lyks Him. Evry1Gts Maryd.

You see, there really was no reason for the BBC to spend pounds 6 million of license payer's cash on its awardwinning series.

Other classics have been equally distilled. Hamlet starts with: 2B? Nt2B? And Jane Eyre ends with: 'MadwyfSetsFyr2Haus'.

The creators of the SMS system probably didn't anticipate their technology being used in this way. The fact that the first S in SMS stands for "short" is probably a clue atthe market they were aiming for.

After all, who's going to want to compose War and Peace using just their thumb?

But evolution is a powerful force. Generation after generation our children's thumbs have grown bigger and more dextrous. Well maybe not, but it wouldn't be the first time that having opposable thumbs got homosapiens into evolutionary trouble.

With more of us carrying Smart Phones that have proper keyboards and larger screens, it's tempting to communicate a little bit more than "C U L8R". Although I think that the complete works of Shakespeare is probably pushing the technology's limits.

We now live in a world where bandwidth is cheap and abundant. We have eight meg connections at home, wireless broadband in many public areas and even our phones have gone "broadband" with 3G - why on earth are we still try to save bandwidth by missing out vowels?

The truth is people like texting. It's simple and it works no matter how decrepit or old fashioned your phone is. We would be better off if we all switched to e-mailing each other from our phone, but then we'd need tiny fingers to use tiny keyboards, and that's impossible now we've all got enormous distended thumbs.

Besides, I think it is in fact the brevity that people like. If the new Dot Mobile service proves anything it's that we may have the bandwidth for detail but we don't have thetime or inclination to use it. So, in case you missed Bleak House, here is the summary: EstherBecumsWardOfJarndyceWhosInCortCase. OvaWardsRich&Ada(L8aACuple). Tulkinghornnosy LawyerWorksOutLadyDedlock=E'sMum. CaseEnds w/no1 gtn money. E marrys SexyDocLiv 2gevaInBleakHse. Rich&L.DedlockDie.

n Chris is managing director of internet consultancy WebXpress. This and other unedited articles can be found at webxpress.com. Email chris@webxpress.com
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Nov 22, 2005
Words:505
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