I was catching up on my RSS overload the other day, when this side note in a post by Naaman on Social Media Multitaskers caught my attention:
“I find that I now blog thoughts that are too long to fit in a tweet; so feel free to follow my tweets…”
I’m not too much of a media multitasker myself, so I don’t experience this duality first hand, but I can imagine it: you get an interesting thought or experience, then you think “is this major enough to develop into a blog post, for which I’ll go over here, or is it not that heavy / can’t be bothered, in which case I flutter my wings over there“. Actually I do experience these, just that in the other case I simply drop it (and excuse me for not considering Facebook status updates an option, that’s stuff for another post…)
This should not have been a dilemma at all, had blogging platforms evolved to accommodate microblogging, which today is somehow seen as the centralized domain of a single commercial company. You really should be able to hop on your publishing platform, write that thought down, regardless of length, and fire it out. No need to figure out which channel to use, and whether the intended readers are indeed following you there. Similarly, your friends/readers should not have to register to your feeds on different platforms but rather consume one only, and rely on a powerful set of rules to filter your stream as they find fit.
Posterous is a great (and fast growing) example of how easy it can be from the blogger’s perspective. Just post it (or rather, email it) and it will get published as needed (e.g. shortened for twitter). But it does not make it any easier on the consumer, who still needs to decide where to best follow this blogger (‘does he perhaps write additional blog posts directly on his blog that won’t show up on his twitter? or vice versa?’) and reduces the basic filtering capability that may have existed when different post types were distributed into the different services.
No need to reinvent the wheel here, blogging platforms are abundant, decentralized and perfectly fit to remain our publishing hub, with their developed CMS and the loose but well-defined social networks. What blogging platforms should do – heck, what Automattic should do to evolve, is:
- Conversation – support the realtime conversational nature of short posts, with the right UI and notifications mechanisms. The “P2” microblogging-optimized theme released almost two years ago was a good start, sadly it still followed the line of thought of “blog or microblog, not both”. To move forward, Automattic need to realize that Twitter is not a personality, it’s a state of mind, hence also P2 can’t be a permanent theme, it should be a contextual theme.
- Publishing – acquire Posterous. As simple as that. These guys got their fame by understanding the pains of publishing anytime anywhere, they know a thing or two on usability and persuasion, and they have great buzz. The latter is not luxury – a buzzed-up acquisition makes it very clear that this is a major strategy for you, a lot more than if you’d develop the same changes yourself.
- Consuming – that’s the tricky part… how do you embed Twitter and WordPress into the same stream, when each consumer has their own desired blend of it. We don’t want to invent a new technology, RSS is here to stay. We do want better ways of filtering our floods using better tagging coupled with more clever feed options. How exactly – I do hope there’s an entire team at Automattic working exactly on that…