Saturday, November 7, 2009

What if microblogs had come before blogs?

I just tweeted the following:

just used .@skype integration with .@microsoft ie to call montclair .@petco re their vaccinations (& all 3 businesses on twitter)

After I finished the tweet, it occurred to me that this could have been a fairly detailed blog post. I could have fleshed out the original thought, talked about my history with Skype, talked about the recent legal unpleasantness, or maybe talked about the person who tried to spam me via Skype, or the much more pleasant Skype contact that I received from someone here in the Inland Empire. Or I could have talked about the IE/Skype integration, or perhaps pursued the "businesses going to Twitter" angle. Or I could have posted pictures of my dog.

But in the end, I just wrote the tweet, and the tweet probably said everything that needed to be said.

I try to write short posts (one of my former blogs, mrontemp, even claimed to be "succinct"), but it doesn't always work out that way. The blogging style that I've used since 2003 often allows for introductory material, detours into interesting subtopics, coverage of conflicting points of view, and other things that make my blog posts a little long at times.

But what if microblogs had become popular before blogs? This would have forced an economy of presentation that wouldn't allow for in-depth exploration, but it would get the main point across very quickly.

I thought I'd look at a blog post or two and see what they would have looked like in microblog form.

Let's take a Robert Scoble post. Scoble used to blog a lot, then got more involved in microblogging, and now is trying to blog a bit more again. On Halloween, Scoble wrote a post...about microblogging. The title? "Twitter's lists make Chris Brogan feel bad." Here's how the post begins:

Chris Brogan wrote that Twitter’s Lists make Chris Brogan feel bad. Why? Because he sees them as exclusionary. Chris doesn’t like that lists exclude people, by their very design.

Here, look at my list of programmers. It excludes me.

That makes me feel bad, according to Chris Brogan.

Except, well, I’m NOT a programmer so why should I be on a list of programmers?

I can’t STAND this attitude that everyone should be included in everything.

But what if Scoble could only use Twitter to talk about Twitter? Perhaps he would have written something like this:

@chrisbrogan thinks twitter lists exclude, make him feel bad. but he doesn't follow all 45 million people on twitter. should they feel bad?

So, 139 characters to sum up the whole post, but no room to get into the examples of the lists from which Scoble excludes himself. But it got a point across.

But Scoble tends to communicate economically anyway. What would happen if we took a post from a really wordy person and tried to boil it down to 140 characters?

Hmm...who do I know that gets wordy at times?

You know where this is going. I've chosen this post of mine to see if I can condense it to the micro-level. If you haven't seen it before, it's one of my "empo-tymshft" posts in which I note that the supposedly new Amazon cloud computing model is really the same thing that CompuServe was using when they started out. I also end up talking about the two models of computing, ranging from extreme centralization to extreme decentralization (The Benevolent Model vs. The Rugged Individualist Model). And I veer off into a couple of other topics here and there.

But what if Google closed Blogger or permanently disabled it for me tomorrow, and I had to tweet all of this? Well, it would probably turn out like this:

@amazon cloud computing is basically the same thing that old @aol unit compuserve did when it started, just dressed up new. eccl 1:9

132 characters, and I had to use the Bible to "link" to a more complete thought. But I didn't use the Bible in the original post, so this is either better or worse than the blog post (depending upon your view of the Bible).
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