Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Extreme précis

Not, you know, précising a text that is extreme, but trying to summarise in the way one might approach extreme surfing, extreme skiing or extreme ironing. With not quite the same risks of death.

Slightly impatient with political verbiage around economics, but also baffled as to why yesterday's BBC 10 o'clock news failed to even mention the speeches by the leaders of all three main parties to the CBI, I decided to have a go at précising Nick Clegg's speech.

At 2,237 words it's not a huge speech to start with. But I always like speeches shorter if possible.

I managed to reduce his 5 main points to 5 tweets:-
  • LibDems on banking: Get bailed-out highstreet banks lending responsibly. Tax profits at 10%. More competition & mutuals http://bit.ly/8UgQFt
  • LibDems on the deficit: Labour in denial; Tories secretive. Instead, stop the spending on bad ideas http://bit.ly/8UgQFt
  • LibDems on capital spending: Invest in energy infrastructure to cope with new generation technologies http://bit.ly/8UgQFt
  • LibDems on promoting growth: Decentralise decision-making. Create a local/regional investment fund http://bit.ly/8UgQFt
  • LibDems on tax: Needs to be simpler & fairer. Reward hard work & initiative. Penalise polluters. A tax switch, not a tax rise http://bit.ly/8UgQFt

That's a reduction from 13,289 characters to 545 characters (assuming people don't actually read URLs). That's a reduction of 96% in terms of characters (and of course even more in terms of subtlety and reasoning).

Could the précis go all the way to a single tweet? Possibly, but I'm fairly sure I'm not up to the challenge of doing that while keeping enough of the detail in to make the tweet worth reading. It really does become a series of slogans. On the other hand, I didn't fancy bombarding my twitter followers with 5 tweets about a speech that they'd probably not be interested in; or if they were interested in, had probably already read.

Oh well...