Microblogging: worthwhile, or a horrible mistake?

Do any of you microblog? Do any of you have a Twitter account, or use any similar service like Jaiku, Pownce, Plurk, or Identica? I’ve been microblogging for about 6 months, as you might have noticed since I’ve got my Identica syndicated to Facebook using the excellent openmicroblogging Facebook app (source code here), but I’m still not sure whether it is a worthwhile endeavor or a colossal waste of time. (If “Twitter” is the magic word for you, I now syndicate my Identica on Twitter as well so you can follow me there.)

On the plus side, it takes much less time to *finish* a micro-post or tweet than to finish a serious blog post, and therefore I am able to do it much more often. Posting interesting, relevant stuff to my blog on a regular basis takes conscious effort, discipline and willpower. Posting something interesting in 140 characters can be tricky but easy to complete and therefore more immediately rewarding. Ultimately, writing enough interesting tweets to match the length of a real blog post takes as much if not more effort, but like most mere mortals I often have difficulty finishing what I start, and finishing and releasing stuff frequently seems superior to letting stuff stew in my brain until the Great American blog post emerges.

Also, microblogging can replace some of the functions of social bookmarking (which doesn’t seem to have really caught on the way microblogging has), namely sharing links with my friends and spreading memes (mwahahahaha). I am still extremely excited about the next generation open source / decentralized version of Ma.gnolia, Ma.gnolia 2, but I am not desperate enough to use any of the current social bookmarking services while I wait… the network effects are just too limited. (I like open source service Connotea for instance, but it doesn’t actually let you friend people or anything… it’s missing the “social” part of social bookmarking!) Given the existence of microblogging, I now mostly want to use social bookmarking services to build a public online searchable database of articles that interest me… a reference trail, rather than a way to alert friends to what is currently interesting to me.

On the minus side, deep analysis is impossible in microblogging, and it is difficult to have thoughtful discussions with a 140 character word limit. At best you can reference thoughtful discussions occurring elsewhere, or respond with pithy one-liners that summarize your positions. Summaries can frequently be hilarious (brevity is the soul of wit) and to the point, often people add words without adding meaning/substance. But there are still fundamental limits to what can be said on a microblog, and therefore I think it would be sad if microblogging took away too much time/effort from real blogs such as this one.

Additionally, there are a limit to how many useful links you can include in 140 characters, and it can be difficult/impossible to include pretty pictures or videos in microblogs without the help of external services. As long as you are happy with following links that may not be a problem, but something is lost I think when you can no longer bundle all of the media together in one cohesive page.

No doubt there are other pros and cons that I haven’t thought of. What do you think?

UPDATE: The Identica badge at http://kentbrewster.com/identica-badge/ won’t work in Livejournal because LJ bans scripting languages like Javascript from LJ posts. Phooey. The Twitter badge does work, however.

UPDATE 2022: Neither badge works in WordPress, and I can’t seem to use the official Twitter embed for some reason. I had to remove the old Twitter badge to get the page to load.

6 thoughts on “Microblogging: worthwhile, or a horrible mistake?

  1. You might be surprised at how much you can fit into a single tweet. You wind up playing with wording a lot to make things fit, and the results can be interesting. And terse.

    • You are referring to the Twitter badge, that is showing up. I also embedded an Identica badge b/c I’m redundant like that, but it is not showing up b/c LJ bans Javascript.

  2. I’ve had some extensive multitweet political discussions on Twitter, which are interesting in carefully crafting your points.

    Because of a random mundane comment I made about a radio show I listened to, I ended up getting involved in WBUR’s social media forays, which has been fascinating.

    And yes, the short turnaround time interests me more than “real” blogging.

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