Judging by messaging over all those years, the broad writing culture is indeed changing, and the change is driven by phones.
Apple opened their app store in mid-2008, and Ok Cupid, like every major service, quickly launched an app. Users began typing on keyboards smaller than their palm, and message length has dropped by over two-thirds The average message is now just over 100 characters — Twitter-sized, in fact.
Below are messages between 150 and 300 characters, plotted against how long they took to write.
As you can see, taking your time helps, up to a point.
Users on Ok Cupid exchange about 4 million messages a day.
Of course, they do so with a special purpose — dating — but the interface provides no specific prompt and enforces no limit on what or how much anyone types.
How are so many people typing messages that long that quickly?
But my unique position as co-founder of Ok Cupid gives us special First, the site’s decade of history lets us see how technology has altered how people communicate.
Ok Cupid has records from the pre-smartphone, pre-Twitter, pre-Instagram days — hell, it was online when Myspace was still a file storage service.
But the downward bend of the trend lines is a wingman in numbers, saying don’t overthink Now, the first vertical on the left, the messages that took no more than ten seconds to write, represents an inordinate amount of the whole and should raise some eyebrows.
It raised mine for sure, and at this point I’m so jaded my face is frozen — Botox has nothing on ten years working at a dating site.
Think of it as Gmail for strangers: the communication on the site is about two people getting to know each other; the romance comes much later,offline.
Outside researchers rarely get to work with private messages like this — it’s the most sensitive content users generate and even anonymized and aggregated, message data is rarely allowed out of the holiest of holies in the database.