Sun, 16 September 2007
Title: Sept 16, 2007 - Micro-blogging
Intro: You may be thinking about starting a blog but feel you don't have the time or maybe won't know what to write about. You may already have a blog and are looking for ways to provide interesting content in real time. Micro-blogging may be a great solution. In this session we discuss micro-blogging and take a look at a few of the many free micro-blogging applications.
Mike: Gordon, I know you've really got into micro-blogging recently - could you describe what it is?
Wikipedia defines micro-blogging as:
"a form of blogging that allows users to write brief text updates (usually less than 200 characters) and publish them, either to be viewed by anyone or by a restricted group which can be chosen by the user. These messages can be submitted by a variety of means, including text messaging, instant messaging, email, MP3 or the web."
Gordon: I think we've both developed a recent addiction to micro-blogging. Your recently wrote a blog describing Twitter, Jaiku and Pownce. Many are calling these social networks, or micro-blogs. Can you describe what this means?
In Twitter and Jaiku you provide information about your thoughts, activities and/or whereabouts. Some users update so often, that it's almost like real-time updates. Pownce works similarly, but allows users to easily share links, files and events. Twitter is still the most popular of the three, but Pownce - by invitation only - seems to be gaining quickly. I'm not sure I understand the attraction of these sites - maybe it's generational, but they're very popular and seem to be addictive.
Gordon: You wrote about a real-world use of Twitter by the Los Angeles Fire Department. Can you tell us about that?
Members of the fire department provide real-time updates (known as tweets) of LAFD activities and operations. Anyone interested can subscribe or follow this Twitter. Imagine the uses at a college or university - we could provide updates on availability of writing or math labs or even our testing center. We could also provide registration information in real-time, such as number of seats, new sections, cancellations etc. To think of it, you could also use these tools to manage your office hours - in real-time!
Mike: You've been tweeting on Twitter frequently. What kind of content are you posting?
I find myself doing a lot of web surfing and I like to tweet the links I'm reading for future reference. I had been tagging using digg (I still do) but have found Twitter to be a little easier to use. I've also got my Twitter micro-blog displayed on my full blog page. I like tagging using Twitter because my tags are easier for others to find. If you watch what I tag - I'm frequently tagging something one day and then writing a full blog on it the next. I find this a very easy method.
Mike: How are you posting to twitter? Are you using any browser plugins or add-ons?
I've been using a Firefox add-on called Twitterbar. It's linked on the mozilla site - here's the download link: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/4664 It's from Tony Farndon (tones) at http://spatialviews.com
From mozilla: The twitterbar extension allows you to post to twitter from the firefox addressbar. A small unobtrusive grey icon sits to the right of your addressbar, clicking on it will post your tweet, mouseover will tell you how many characters you have left. You can also post by typing ' --post' or hit the grey arrow when visiting a webpage to carry out a URL tweet (i.e it adds 'Currently Browsing: ' in front of the url). Options for the extension include safe/secure mode, open twitter in new tab after posting and the ability to change the URL tweet 'Currently browsing' text.
There are a number of other plugins/add-ons. Mashable.com has a great post titled 8 Awesome Firefox Plugins for Twitter
Mike: Have you started posting using your cell phone yet?
Not yet. You can receive updates from those you're following (or just some people) on your phone and you can send updates using text messaging. Twitter doesn't charge anything for this, but you want to make sure you have a text messaging plan with your cellular carrier. You can shut text messages from Twitter off at anytime by replying with "off" (and back on by sending "on"). And you can even specify that it turn off automatically at night.
In addition you can tweet from you instant messenger client. Right now Twitter supports AIM, GTalk, Jabber, .Mac and LiveJournal.
Gordon: Mike - how about some of the others. You sent me an invite for Pownce which I signed up for but have not spent a lot of time with. How does that work?
Pownce was co-founded by Kevin Rose - the 30-year old brains behind hugely successful news/social networking site digg.com. Digg allows user to post links to interesting news or websites and other users to either "digg" or "bury" the article. Stories with the most diggs rise to the top, while others disappear - it's a great way to let the community filter news.
From NY Times article linkd in my blog: With Pownce You can send text messages to individual friends or groups of friends on Pownce as well as post microblogs, or short announcements, to the larger Pownce community. This function is very similar to messaging services like Twitter or Jaiku, and is found on social networks like Facebook and MySpace (although Pownce’s messages cannot, at least for now, be sent to mobile phones). You can also send your friends links, invitations to events, or files like photos, music or videos. Of course, you can already do that on a multitude of file-sharing Web sites. It is the combination of private messaging and file-sharing that makes Pownce so novel.
Gordon: Jaiku - can you tell us about that?
From Wikipedia: Jaiku.com is a social networking and micro-blogging service comparable to Twitter. Jaiku was founded in July, 2006 by Jyri Engeström and Petteri Koponen from Finland.
Mike: Are there any others?
Sure. Read/WriteWeb.com recently published a piece called 10 Micro-Blogging Tools Compared
Let's run down the list as quoted in the Read/WriteWeb piece.
Tumblr is a very clean, slick micro-blogging platform. Its focus is on simplicity and elegance. Similar to Pownce, users can share a variety of things, including text, photos, quotes, links, chats, or even videos.
MySay is what it says. Instead of text updates, users call MySay and say how they are doing today. Then, friends or family can listen via phone, e-mail, or the web.
Hictu is a service for video microbloggers. A webcam and a mouse-click are all that is needed to create a videopost. This streamlined solution saves time and effort for traditional vloggers.
Moodmill is a way to express your mood or current state of being. A sliding scale facilitates this process, while a quick text update completes the personalized service.
Frazr is also very similar to Twitter. The main difference is one of language. Frazr is focused primarily on the French and German markets.
IRateMyDay allows you the ability to (yes, you guessed it) rate your day on a scale of 'Worst' to 'Great'. Users can also provide a short text update to accompany the rating.
Emotionr is a way to gauge your happiness on a scale of 1-10 (decimals included). As the name touts, it is a way to express and share your emotions and feelings with those around you.****
Completely off topic - rumor has it Google Presently will be coming out this week!
Also discuss the gPhone and Robert Cringley's blog on Google.