Microblogging: fast, simple ways to get your thoughts out there

There are a couple tools I see as “microblogging” tools on the Web today. To me microblogs are platforms where you can post small posts or links (I would include link blogs in this category) as opposed to full blog posts with categories and a more developed thought process. There are a couple microblogging tools available at the moment and what I find really interesting is that not all of these tools work the same way and seem to collectively bridge the gap between a simple bookmark posting (a la del.icio.us) and what we have become accustomed to seeing on blogs. So a simple microblog entry would be a del.icio.us post which could look like this on my del.icio.us page:

delicious post 1.png

or, if you see this post on a blog it would look something like this:

delicious post 2.png

That is pretty simple stuff. The link is to a site I found interesting or worth bookmarking and I may even include a note about the link with my thoughts on the link or a description of the item linked to. There is a similar type of microblogging service that answers the question “What are you doing?”. This is a more personal form of microblogging because you are talking about things that interest you or that you are doing in a given moment. The posts are pretty simple and the focus is on keeping it short. There are two good examples of this. The first is Twitter and a typical Twitter post would look something like this:


What Twitter adds is a more immediate form of interaction with other Twitter users because the updates come in so quickly (just about as soon as they are posted if everything is working) and users can respond to each other, making Twitter a form of public chatroom in a way. There is scope for a del.icio.us-type service because you can pretty much post about whatever you want, including links. Now Jaiku takes Twitter a step further (actually Jaiku was launched before Twitter even though Twitter rose to prominence before Jaiku did) and enables users to add external feeds to their Jaiku stream and to comment on each other’s posts:

Jaiku posts.png

Neither Twitter or Jaiku can really be seen as true blogging services (although Jaiku is pretty close). They are almost like a del.icio.us for your personal life with each post representing a bookmark in your day. I started using Tumblr the other day (I had heard quite a bit about it and thought I’d give it a try). Tumblr is a tumblelog service which, according to Wikipedia is:

A tumblelog is a variation of a blog, that favors short-form, mixed-media posts over the longer editorial posts frequently associated with blogging. Common post formats found on tumblelogs include links, photos, quotes, dialogues, and video. Unlike blogs, this format is frequently used to share the author’s creations, discoveries, or experiences without providing a commentary.

The term “tumblelog” was coined by Why the lucky stiff in a blog post on April 12th, 2005, while describing Anarchaia.

Jason Kottke described tumblelogs on October 19th, 2005:

A tumblelog is a quick and dirty stream of consciousness, a bit like a remaindered links style linklog but with more than just links. They remind me of an older style of blogging, back when people did sites by hand, before Movable Type made post titles all but mandatory, blog entries turned into short magazine articles, and posts belonged to a conversation distributed throughout the entire blogosphere. Robot Wisdom and Bifurcated Rivets are two older style weblogs that feel very much like these tumblelogs with minimal commentary, little cross-blog chatter, the barest whiff of a finished published work, almost pure editing…really just a way to quickly publish the “stuff” that you run across every day on the web.

Here is a screenshot from my tumblelog on Tumblr:

Tumblr tumblelog.png

My Tumblr blog is a pretty simple one and at the moment it works in a similar way to my Jaiku feed in that I had added feeds from some of the sites and services I use to my tumblelog so what you see in this screenshot for the posts that were published on Monday are a Twitter post, two del.icio.us links (in red) and part of a post I published here on chilibean about the 27 Dinner held last Friday. Tumblr users can also post images, video and text posts to their tumblelogs (and I imagine similar services allows a similar set of postings). A tumblelog looks a lot like a conventional blog and yet it works much the same was as other microblogging services (and even aggregates them).

Each of these tools is designed to facilitate sharing in a simpler and faster way than a normal blog. Typically a conventional blog requires a bit of thought and posts tend to be anything from a paragraph or so to a few hundred words. Each of these microblogging tools enable you to publish a thought, a link or a snippet of content to the Web pretty quickly and simply without having to worry too much about dedicating time to a full post. These are the posts you do when you are catching a bus or train, sitting at a coffee shop waiting for a friend or grabbing a quick bite to eat during your lunch hour. Most of these services have a mobile element so you can publish a post from your mobile device. Not only are these microblogging platforms but they also become moblogging (mobile blogging) platforms too.

When you put all this together you start to see all these services come together to provide pretty comprehensive cover for your various publishing needs. You can now blog how you want, when you want and in the format you prefer.

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