Re: Defining a microblog post

Manton Reese:

[A] microblog post has these qualities:

Must have an RSS feed. Does not have an RSS item title. Contains short post text, 280 characters or less.

My upcoming weblog system has the ability to post microblog posts. I will probably stick with the Twitter standard 140 characters. I’ve found it to be a good limit that challenges me to either boil an idea down to one thought or properly elaborate it with arguments in a full blog post. But the particular limit is I think less important than the idea that there is indeed a difference between a short post and a longer one. Titled/untitled is more of a distinction, software-wise, since I need to craft the RSS feed differently. Apps that read and present RSS need to do more thinking about why the two types of posts might be handled differently.

I think it might be important to think not just about what makes a microblog post micro, but how those types of posts differ from full posts.

A microblog post:

  • Contains a single thought, a link with short commentary, or a photo with a caption.
  • Is less appropriate for multiple links or photos.
  • Is intended to be read quickly in a timeline with lots of other similarly-sized posts.
  • Is short enough to be read without scrolling.

A full-length post:

  • May contain a thesis and arguments in support of that central idea.
  • May contain several links or photos.
  • May be long enough that it can’t be presented in the same way as microblog posts, because it needs to be scrolled to be read.

Twitter of course rose in popularly in very large part because it left itself pretty loose in how it should be used, so my ideas of what makes a tweet a tweet surely vary from others’. And of course the blog post has changed as comments have fallen out of favor.

A question for further consideration: aside from leaving off titles, should I be treating microblog posts any differently on their way out the door? Is there metadata or markup a short post should maybe have that a longer one shouldn’t? Should a site have discrete feeds for micro posts in addition to, or instead of, interleaved feeds that also include longer posts?

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