Twitter is often described as a micro-blogging platform. Twitter posts and like blog posts, except they’re limited to 140 characters (so they fit in a cell phone text message). You subscribe to Twitter posts (called “tweets”) sorta like you subscribe to a blog. Some people, like Kathy Sierra, do use Twitter for micro-blogging. Her tweets are little self-contained messages, often one sentence. Here’s a recent example:
Much as I liked Outliers, makes me cringe to see people focus on “it’s all luck/chance” rather than the “it takes 10,000 hours” part.
Nice observation, all in 133 characters. (She’s talking about Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers. He argues that success is a matter of accumulated lucky advantages plus around 10,000 hours of deliberate practice.)
Maybe the most common form of micro-blogging is link sharing. Here’s an example, again from Kathy Sierra.
…and for those whose head literally explodes over misuse of the word “literally” http://literally.barelyfitz.com/
Some people use Twitter as a question-and-answer forum. This is sorta like blogging and inviting comments, and it can be very powerful.
But a lot of traffic on Twitter is not what I’d consider micro-blogging. It’s more like a public form of instant messaging. I found this disorienting when I first started using Twitter. Who are they talking to? Context?! Why would I want everyone to see my instant messages? I suppose it’s an acquired taste.
Everyone on Twitter has some mixture of micro-blogging, Q&A, and instant messaging. Some people love the instant messaging-style conversations. To each his own. My preferred mix is weighted toward micro-blogging and Q&A.
I’m on Twitter at @johndcook.
Update (29 March 2010): It’s been more than a year since I first wrote this post. I now use the instant messaging aspect of Twitter a little more than I did then, though I still prefer the micro-blogging aspect. And I’ve created several daily tip accounts that are pure microblogs.