This is Your Brain on Twitter

The interwebs quote “studies” that claim we humans have ~70K thoughts a day. That’s about .81 thoughts per second if you are awake every second of the 24 hour day (86400 seconds per day/70,000 thoughts). I can’t seem to find the underlying “studies” to determine if they are using an 18 or 12 hour “work-day” for the calc, but, hey, we’ll go with it for this exercise.

70K is also just over the threshold the industry sets as a benchmark for the number of words in a novel.

How many words/characters in a thought?

Consider twitter. Is that a good length for a thought? How long does it take to think 140 characters? Perhaps better to call it between 1-3 thoughts? 1.5 thoughts per 140 character tweet then?

A quick Flesch–Kincaid readability analysis of my recent tweets yields a character to word ratio of about 6.2 characters per word (including spaces). This nets out to average 22.5 words per tweet. Call it about 15 words per thought. Seems right to me. Pattern-matches to the the haiku 3-5-7 syllable pattern. But I digress.

Assuming I type as fast as the average typist (~60WPM) it should take me ~30 seconds to type the 140 character tweet. Max twitter throughput for this human then would appear to be in the range of 2160 tweets per (18hours) day. Call that 3240 thoughts shared per day when you’re full out and doing nothing else for 18 hours.

Hrm,  best case, >5% of our thoughts shared because of implementation limitations? That’s what we call high drag, no wonder writers are filled with angst and frustration.

Assuming about an hour a day sharing “thought–sized chunks of text”, it’ll take about a month to tweet about 70K words, encompassing about 4600 thoughts. About the same number of words/thoughts in a novel.

Consider, if you could harvest your thoughts more efficiently for 24 hours you could fill the same novel.


Now, how many thoughts in a symphony?