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I hopped on board the fad train to TweetyTown and got myself a Twitter account. For someone who was deeply skeptical about FaceBook until recently this may seem like a ludicrous act. What the hell can you do with Twitter anyway? How can you possibly express any useful information in 140 characters? Well, it ain't easy, but I had a breakthrough during a training class on Friday.
I'm working on a CCNA certification and am currently taking a class towards that end. The stuff I was going over on Friday was heavy on the math - packet headers, binary numbering system, subnet masks. Basically squeezing a lot of useful information into a small amount of bytes. During my lunch break I headed to Target to pick up a new notebook (I take a lot of notes and mine had just run out) and I snagged a pack of Heritage to serve as a distraction from all those 1s and 0s.
Most of this stuff is just review for me so I took my notes and idly flipped through the cards. It then occurred to me that 140 characters is actually a whole lot of information. Heck, you only need 32 bits for an IPv4 address. So 140 characters can be useful, but how can it be useful? What problem can it solve for me?
Well, one problem I have with this blog is that I am suffering from pack rip constipation. I want to post pack rips on A Pack a Day and A Pack to Be Named Later, but time has been tight and it takes as long to post a pack rip as it does a decently researched article. I've also bought a fraction of the packs I normally do this year so I don't want to waste a good pack rip by actually sorting the cards into my set before I've taken the time to type it out and scan the cards but that's time consuming. So as a result about half of the packs I've bought this year are sitting on my desk opened but unsorted. Yes, I have mental problems. You're just noticing this now? Now, if there was a way I could post those pack rips as quickly as possible I could flush through the banal rips and save the good ones for posting. But you can't possibly tweet a pack rip can you? Let's examine.
So what information do you really need to share what cards you pulled in a pack? Well, the name of the product and the cards inside, of course. Pics and prices and commentary and links and YouTube videos are cute, but all you really need is the product and the cards. So can you tweet that in 140 characters? Let's break it down.
How many characters do you need to express the name of the pack? Well let's look at the names of some products. 2009 Upper Deck Series 2. 1987 Topps. 2008 Topps Baseball Updates and Highlights presents 2009 Topps Heritage High Number Series. That last one wipes out the tweet by itself, but let's truncate it to 2008 Heritage High. Heck, you can cut these names down further and still have collectors know what you're talking about. 09 UD2. 87 Topps. 09 HeritageHigh. So anywhere from 6 to 15 characters. Let's leave some wiggle room and make it 20 characters for the name of the pack, that leaves up to 120 for the cards.
So what do you need to list the cards? Card number and name would be helpful. If it's an insert or numbered that can add some extra characters but there's usually only a couple per pack. Card numbers at most will take 4 characters for an Upper Deck 1000 card set. Add a space to make it five. Names are generally three characters (Ott) to 14 characters long (Saltalamacchia). so really the most you would need is 20 characters per card, assuming you got all Saltalamacchias and Grudzielaneks and Pierzynskis. 120 divided by 20 is 6 so you can easily tweet a 6 card pack rip. Here's the characters per card you'd have for various pack sizes:
4 cards: 30 characters per card
5 cards: 24 characters per card
6 cards: 20 characters per card
8 cards: 15 characters per card
10 cards: 12 characters per card
12 cards: 10 characters per card
15 cards: 8 characters per card
20 cards: 6 characters per card
Jumbo packs are obviously untweetable. Hobby Upper Deck packs are impossible as well unless you just post the card numbers. A six or eight card pack though? perfect. What's in that pile on my desk? 8 card Heritage, 6 card O-Pee-Chee, some 12 card Topps, and soon to be a whole CRAPLOAD of 6 card Allen & Ginter.
It... Could... WOOOORK!
So I wrote up a mock tweet using that Heritage pack.
09 Heritage Target
19 characters, no problem.
383 David Wright 308 Zach Greinke 351 Ben Sheets 381 Braves Team 431 Jason Bartlett SP 344 Rafael Furcal 389 World Series game 4 162 BJ Upton
Eek, 141 characters, too many. Let's kill those first names.
383 Wright 308 Greinke 351 Sheets 381 Braves Team 431 Bartlett SP 344 Furcal 389 WS game 4 162 BJ Upton
103 characters. You know who all those guys are right? We have some space left so let's add a hashtag so the whole world can easily look at my packs.
Seven characters to spare. I can add "poopie" to the end if I wish. But I won't. This is entirely too silly as it is.
So now I can tweet my pack rips and save time for more important things. Like typing up my Twitter methodology for an hour. Feel free to steal the concept or call the nuthouse on me if you wish.