FastWeb Announces 140 Character Essay Winner
FastWeb announces the 140 character essay winner.
By Adam Starr
September 08, 2009
FastWeb is happy to announce the winner of the Leg I of our Scholarship Triathlon’s world’s shortest essay contest. Our criteria: write a “nano-essay” not to exceed a standard tweet-length of 140 characters on one of the following topics:
• The best way you have used technology to your advantage in school in the past year.
• How do you think technology will impact your college career?
We judged over 3,500 essays. Our consideration was given three-parts of equal weight: originality, creativity, and ability to accurately answer the question.
Sounds easy doesn’t it? I mean…how long does it take to write a tweet or shoot off a text? The answer, we found, was that this assignment was far from easy. I know what you’re thinking, “Yeahhhhh right. That’s like the easiest thing in the world…” Trust me, I can almost see you scoffing, smirking confidently and thinking how you could “crank out such an overgrown haiku in less than two minutes.” And you may have been right; maybe you could have “dropped science like Galileo dropped an orange.” And if that’s the case then you should definitely try next time, because it’s easier to say you can do something than actually doing it, just ask Uncle Rico, he was pretty sure he could throw those dang footballs over them mountains. The truth is, writing this tiny essay was harder than it sounds, anyone battling a low word count knows it’s not easy to pack a lot of information into a little paragraph—Attempting to answer complex questions in 140 characters is quite challenging. Take that italicized bit for example; it was over 100 characters too long for this contest.
Now, if you were like 85% of our enthusiastic entrants, your first challenge would have been in not getting tripped up by the instructions. The key word in those directions was the 140-character part. It wasn’t 140 words, nor 140 pages, and certainly not 140 sentences, trust us—we saw all of the above. As we know from texting and tweeting, letters, dashes, hyphens, spaces, commas, ellipses, etc, take up a lot of space, like it or not— space takes space—this essay forced entrants to be very economical and impactful with their language.
As judges we read many hundreds of entertaining, interesting, heartfelt, and eloquent essays. Unfortunately, we had to disqualify a great majority of these excellent entries because they ranged from 140 words to several pages in length. While such a roomy word count allows for more expansive freedom of expression, it also eliminated many otherwise worthy participants from our micro-essay contest.
A second, and more frustrating aspect of judging was in discovering the essays that were soooo close to 140 characters, the funny, succinct, poetic little bursts of imagination that were 143 characters, or 148. These were like finding diamonds and then realizing they were cubic zirconium, so teasingly close to inclusion, but ultimately unable to cut it.
Next, we enjoyed the rarest of gems, those perfect participants, the entrants that followed the directions down to a texty-tweet-T, delivering creative uses of punctuation, text-speak, and funny and honest answers to our questions. It was a challenge to sort through these essays because we could tell that, like boiling down a lot of wordy-starches into a potent drink, it had taken some real time to create a sound idea and distil an entire essay into a sentence or two.
Finally, without any further ado, we present you our top three winners from third place to first.
In third place and answering Question II, is a frenetic symbol-heavy equation to success.
Online classes = computer + internet + downloadable books (-$) + research + flash drives & CDs = gr8 grades = diploma = job interviews = $ = career! M
Coming in at second place and answering Question I, is a powerful example of technology as a tool of communication.
25 hrs + my brain + my Dell + sweat & tears = 1 girl who now has a voice. 2 more years + sweat + tears + Windows & my Dell = MS, CCC-SLP!
Finally, our winner of Leg One of the FastWeb Triathlon and answering Question II, Jessica Simkins for her eloquent completeness of thought. She manages to answer the question fully and subtly with only a handful of well-placed, well-conceived letters. A+.
Technology has created my PC autobiography: accomplishments in .doc, tastes in .wma, connections in @, memories in .jpg, the world in .com
Congratulations to our top finalists and we look forward to all of your contributions in Leg II of the Triathlon.