This page considers microblogging.
It covers -
Micro-blogs or Tumblelogs ("to weblogs what text
messages are to email") have been lauded as 'stream
of consciousness' blogging and more authentic than what
proponents damn as corporatised or routinised blogging.
They have also been criticised as blogs for people with
attention deficit disorder (ADD) or as just another fad
that has attracted more media attention than practitioners.
Supposedly they -
represent the thoughts of the tumblelogger more or less
as they happen, tumbling out of their brain, into a
computer, then on to the web. ... Tumblelogs are the
punk rock of blogging. They strip away all that prog-rock
space jazz and focus on the content: short thoughts,
quotes, photos, music, video clips and links. Unlike
the verbose ramblings of most weblogs, where anything
posted tends to be accompanied by several paragraphs
of quotes, opinion and additional links, a tumblelogger
just posts one thing at a time. ... Tumblelogging embraces
the ephemeral existence of web content. A post is important
today and all but forgotten tomorrow.
service Twitter thus offers entries such as -
walked straight into a hole
it's worse than I thought
can has teaburger?
munching on a banana and grouping objects by date
spying a second cup of tea
a microblogger who proclaims "I live on the internet,
and my guess is that you do too". Perhaps it is time
to get some fresh air or heed complaints about "over-sharing".
Twitter’s founders have hailed it as a new form
of human communication, "like a flock of birds choreographed
in flight", as "another step toward the democratization
of information" and all in all good thing. One offered
the syrupy "I've come to really believe that if you
make it easier for people to share information, more good
things happen". His cofounder claimed that "Twitter
is not about the triumph of technology. It’s about
the triumph of the human spirit".
Microblog services proliferated in 2007, with substantial
emulation of Twitter.com
(eg Jaiku, Pownce, PlaceShout, Wamadu, Mogu2, Frazr, 1you,
Baluuu, Me2Day, Dukudu, Numpa, Plappadu, Noumba and Mambler).
Several expired during 2008, having failed to gain the
commitment of a sufficiently large number of people (the
'microblogging community' as an avant-garde is necessarily
fickle) and challenged by bringing in revenue for service
maintenance and improvement.
The services typically allow posts (usually with a 100
to 140 character limit) from a mobile phone - 'blogging
by SMS' - or a personal
computer, with content being displayed online or even
delivered by SMS to the numbers of people who subscribed
to the particular microblog.
It is difficult to escape the conclusion that microblogging
is a fad - hyped by 'blog evangelists' in search of legitimacy,
by venture capitalists (or merely microblog service developers
seeking VC money) and by journalists eager to demonstrate
that they are au fait with the latest online
breakthrough or wow the undiscerning masses with breathless
tales of what has replaced the radium
pill, the flying car and the internet
Microblogs have a symbolic rather than practical function.
Figures for the microblog population are uncertain: it
is unclear who has tried microblogging and who has continued
to microblog. There are few independent authoritative
sources of information about the size of the microblog
population or its demographics; claims that there has
been major uptake in Australia and elsewhere are thus
Critics have sourly characterised tumblelogs as narcissistic
twittering for fellow microbloggers and readers with the
attention span of a gnat. A more generous assessment might
be that microblogging is to blogging as the unicycle is
to the bicycle: few devotees and questionable value.
Brevity does not preclude significance - the author of
this page would, for example, prefer to read Lichtenberg's
Aphorisms than endure another trek through the
philosophising in War & Peace - but character
limits and emulation within the 'microblog community'
(no haiku, much "he is so hot" or "theyre
closed dammit") means that much of the content in
tumblelogs strikes some outsiders as distinctly trivial.
Defenders have lauded some microblogs as having an "intrinsic
value" that transcends the genre, with an enthusiast
praising the consumer reviews PlaceShout service ("Users
have 100 characters to jazz or razz a place of business,
and the reviews are overlaid on Google Maps", integrating
revieing with 'local search' or IBNIS).
A PlaceShout proponent enthused
you don't have to read through a 700 word thesis on
how this guy went to that one breakfast restaurant and
his eggs were runny and then the waitress spilled the
coffee all over his lap and then they were slow to get
the check and he wasted 90 minutes there when all he
wanted was a quick breakfast. Instead, PlaceShout encourages
this poor, put upon soul to express his grief in a few
lines and then get out of your hair. You don't
need to know his life story; the only information you
need is that you should avoid this place at all costs
unless you like bad food, bad service and coffee in
your lap. See, way shorter and way more useful.
If you're not in the mood to review and are instead
just looking for a cool new place to check out, PlaceShout
makes that easy too. You can scan through the list of
visible shout outs, browse by category, view the newest
or hottest places, or hear about what the loudest users
might, of course, have all the justice of a drive-by shooting.
Studies of microblogs have centred on Twitter.
They include 'Why we twitter: understanding microblogging
usage and communities' by Java, Song, Finin & Tseng
in Proceedings of the 9th WebKDD and 1st SNA-KDD 2007
Workshop on Web Mining and Social Network Analysis
(2007), 'Social Networks that Matter: Twitter Under the
Microscope' by Huberman, Romero & Wu in 15(1) First
Monday (2009), 'Beyond Microblogging: Conversation
and Collaboration via Twitter' by Honeycutt & Herring
in Proceedings of the 42nd Hawaii International Conference
on System Sciences (2009), and 'A few chirps about
twitter' by Krishnamurthy, Gill & Arlitt in Proceedings
of the First Workshop on online Social Networks (2008).
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