With all the different specialized blogging, pseudo-blogging, or linking websites and services available these days, I’m starting to lose track of how I’m ‘supposed’ to do this one-to-many online communication thing.
It used to be easy. Back in the ‘old days,’ you’d hand-edit a simple HTML file with whatever you wanted to put on it, whenever you wanted to put something on it. Maybe it’d be a link, maybe it’d be a screed. Maybe people would see it, maybe they wouldn’t. Pretty simple.
Then blogging arrived to make everything simpler. Gone were the days of hand-editing HTML and managing pages directly, now you had specialized software that handled the details for you. Databases to store the information, automatically dynamically generated pages, comments, the whole shebang. Still, content-wise, it was still a grab-bag. Some posts would be long, detailed, and in-depth; other posts would be a single small link or quip; sometimes you’d get lists of links that caught someone’s eye.
Now, however, you’ve got a veritable plethora of specialized sites to handle all the different types of information you might want to share. The ones that I either use (in some fashion) or have pinged my radar strongly enough to trigger this little round of rambling, in rough order of depth:
- Twitter: 140-character messages originally meant to be IM-style ‘status updates,’ but now often used for ‘nanoblogging’ — short, pithy messages. No more, no less. Since brevity is the soul of wit, we will all tweet brief.
del.icio.us: Social bookmarking that has evolved far more towards the social side than the bookmarking side. While I’m sure there are plenty of people that actually use their del.icio.us account as a substitute for the ‘bookmarks’ menu in their web browser, I see far more who use it as a ‘microblog’ (often displayed as a sidebar to their main weblog) wherein each post is a single link with short commentary.
Tumblr: “The easiest way to share yourself,” according to their splash page. I’ve not bothered setting up a ‘tumblelog’ for myself, but this appears to fill in the ‘miniblogging’ niche, with an emphasis on simple link and media inclusion. Apparently, “this format is frequently used to share the author’s creations, discoveries, or experiences without providing a commentary.” Honestly, I’m still a little confused by the niche that this one fills (or attempts to fill).
Weblogs (the usual suspects): Finally, the sites and software packages that used to be simple ‘blogging’ tools are now…what? Is this still ‘blogging’? Or is it now ‘macroblogging’?
I’m starting to feel like I’m losing track of what kind of post is ‘supposed’ to go to which service, and I’m more and more wondering if it’s even worth continuing to keep them all separate. However, there are occasional advantages to the specializations of the services (del.icio.us’s tagging and quick bookmarklets, the dedicated clients that are available for many of the services) that keep me using them instead of just using ‘old-school’ weblog posts for everything.
If I had the time (which student life prevents) and design skills (which simply don’t exist), I’d love to put some effort into seeing if I could assemble an über skin for my site that would streamline everything into one stream-of-consciousness approach (along the lines of what I see on Daring Fireball and kottke.org) but still allow me to use those services that I find useful. It doesn’t seem horrendously complex: plugins (some of which are probably available in some form or another) that would automatically convert each post at one service or another into its own post on my weblog, default posting options for each type of post (perhaps tweets don’t need comments enabled, for instance), and possibly some CSS work that would distinguish the types of posts.
But then, would that still be too complex? There’s always the question of what happens when one service or another is having connection issues (which I keep running into with Twitter — apparently there’s some avian flu going around over there). Perhaps I’d still be better off just coming back around to using my weblog for everything. Consolidate everything in one place — after all, there’s absolutely no real reason why I “have” to ramble on for a certain length for the post to be worthy of going on the blog, rather than being posted as a tumble, del.icio.us link, or tweet.
There’s a few things I’d miss, though, which may keep me from doing this. The in-built social networking of places like Twitter are nice, though not necessarily a dealbreaker. Being able to have my tweets and del.icio.us links show up on my Facebook profile is nice. Sometimes I like the compartmentalization (on the weblog, for instance, ‘big’ posts in the center, tweets and links over in the sidebar), sometimes I feel like it’s unnecessarily over complicating things.
Meh. I’ve gone on to just rambling now. Maybe that 140 character limit isn’t so much of a bad thing, huh?