comScore Trimit iPhone App Compresses Text For Social Networking | The Mary Sue

iPhone App Trimit Can Remove Vowels, All Shreds of Dignity From Text

In this world of 140 character Tweets and 160 character text messages (for those of use who are still trapped in the past), we all find it necessary to condense our thoughts from time to time. For the long-winded, like me, this is an important daily exercise that constantly reminds me I could be texting/speaking/communicating more efficiently, and encourages me to cut out unnecessary words and, I’ll admit it, sometimes punctuation. If you can’t be bothered to look over your text messages or, God forbid, edit your tweets for brevity, have no fear: The Trimit iPhone App is here and it will automatically maim your text to fit character limits by rmvng vwls & adding abbr.s 4 u.

Trimit has a wealth of functionality to help you not only butcher your own text, but also that of others. The Trimit interface consists of a text box where you can type in your own text or import text from a url. After that, you can open up the settings and make a few choice decisions like whether or not you want Trimit to use abbreviations and eliminate vowels, and also how far you want the text condensed; there are specific buttons that correspond to the character limits of things like tweets or Facebook statuses. After you’ve taken care of that, just shake the phone and the words will be ground down into the equivalent of juice concentrate.

If you’re concerned that the result might be unreadable, and you very well may be, its important to note that Trimit uses an algorithm to decide which words are important and should not be edited, things like proper nouns for instance. On the other hand, this same algorithm will do things like spell “issue” as “izue” or “told” as “2ld” so you can take that for what it’s worth. While the main application of this app is shorten text for various social networking sites, another use is to shorten long articles for quicker and “easier” (see: “2ld” and “izue”) reading. Computer assisted speed reading of a sort.

I’ll admit that, on a certain level, this does sound attractive. I have such a low attention span that I routinely watch movies at 1.5x speed on the rare occasion that I’m not already doing something else simultaneously. But using a compression filter for text, the medium by which we receive such large amounts of important information, seems like it might take things a little too far. It’s definitely possible that automatic compression could reduce the amount of time it takes to read an article, but have you ever tried to scale up a raster image? It’s not quite the same. Compression isn’t inherently bad, but why trust an algorithm to do it for you? That algorithm may be able to go through and shorten individual words and even decide what individual words should be immune, but only you can prevent forest fires decide how to prune your text in a way that maintains content and dignity. We all need the practice. Just look at the length of this post for instance.

For the time being, Trimit is still out there in the App Store, suffering awful reviews due to some crippling stability issues. Once it’s up and running though, it might be able to actually gain some momentum. I encourage you, dear readers who read all the way down to here presumably without the aid of Trimit, fight the good fight and laugh at it in public with me.


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