First Blogging, Now Twittering

Many people just don’t get it about blogs. Even fewer are picking up on the potential of Twitter. Is it even on your radar screen?

What’s the big deal about blogs? Let’s clear that up if you’re still confused about it.

What makes a good blog unique is not just the more frequent postings than a “normal” web site. Rather, it’s about being able to subscribe and have the information come to you, instead of making you go out and find it. Sure, you can set up alerts in Google and/or Yahoo on topics of your choice, and get information that way. But that means you’ve got to be pretty good about the key words you use, and it also means there’s a lot of relevant or helpful information you’re going to miss.

Blogs are first and foremost about content — free content — and getting that content delivered to you at a location which is convenient. For example, you can have blog post announcements sent to your Outlook inbox, to a GMail inbox, or to an RSS feed aggregator like Bloglines, each of which helps to keep your Inbox leaner.

My method until recently was Bloglines, and it worked like a charm. But I had to actively go to my Bloglines home page in order to review the new posts from all the blogs I subscribe to. Recently, I set up an iGoogle customized screen, which incorporates all my favorite blogs. I was already using Google as my Internet Explorer home page. Now every time I open Internet Explorer all the blogs I subscribe to are neatly arranged and showing live links to the last 3 posts. Plus some other “personal” favorites like a Sudoku of the day. Love it. I go to IE throughout the day, so there’s less chance of missing something from one of my favorite blogs.

One other thing about blogs. Think of them as article-ettes. Posts of, hopefully, not more than 400 words on a topic, which is typically interlaced with links to additional reference material. That’s the second big think about blog posts. Instead of quoting others, the writer just provides the link(s) to referenced information found elsewhere. Truly putting the spider web design of the WWW to good use.

OK, so with blogs we find brief writings on topics of our interest with lots of links to further information, and we can subscribe to bring that information right to our desktop or other location automatically.

So what’s the diff about Twitter? Think of Twitter as the Instant Messaging format of a blog. Some call Twitter a “microblog” site. Imagine millions of people answering the question “What are you doing?” all day and night in “tweets” of 140 characters or fewer. That’s what Twitter is all about.

My impression of Twitter when it first made the scene was that I had way more important things to do than sit around all day reading the inane musings of dull people sharing the ins and outs of their day in excruciating minute by minute detail. That was before I read a recent post on the Deliberations blog site entitled “Twittering Voir Dire” which fired up my imagination. Imagine the live stream of information coming from the court room during a high profile trial. All the excitement and none of the boredom.

Hmmm . . . maybe I should reconsider that Facebook invite I got to join my cousin’s network? There are a whole host of new tools becoming available. Don’t let them blow past you without a little imagination on your part as to their potential.

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