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Microblogging is a form of blogging. A microblog differs from a traditional blog in that its content is typically much smaller, in both actual size and aggregate file size. A microblog entry could consist of nothing but a short sentence fragment, or an image or embedded video.

As with traditional blogging, microbloggers post about topics ranging from the simple, such as "what I'm doing right now," to the thematic, such as "sports cars." Commercial microblogs also exist, to promote websites, services and/or products.

Some microblogging services offer features such as privacy settings, which allow users to control who can read their microblogs, or alternative ways of publishing entries besides the web-based interface. These may include text messaging, instant messaging, E-mail, or digital audio.



The first microblogs were known as as tumblelogs. The term was coined by why the lucky stiff in a blog post on April 12, 2005, while describing Christian Neukirchen's Anarchaia.

Blogging has mutated into simpler forms (specifically, link- and mob- and aud- and vid- variant), but I don’t think I’ve seen a blog like Chris Neukirchen’s Anarchaia, which fudges together a bunch of disparate forms of citation (links, quotes, flickrings) into a very long and narrow and distracted tumblelog.

Jason Kottke described tumblelogs on October 19, 2005:[1]

A tumblelog is a quick and dirty stream of consciousness, a bit like a remaindered links style linklog but with more than just links. They remind me of an older style of blogging, back when people did sites by hand, before Movable Type made post titles all but mandatory, blog entries turned into short magazine articles, and posts belonged to a conversation distributed throughout the entire blogosphere. Robot Wisdom and Bifurcated Rivets are two older style weblogs that feel very much like these tumblelogs with minimal commentary, little cross-blog chatter, the barest whiff of a finished published work, almost pure editing...really just a way to quickly publish the "stuff" that you run across every day on the web

However, by 2006 and 2007, the term microblog came into greater usage for such services provided by Tumblr and Twitter. In May 2007, 111 microblogging sites were counted internationally.[2] Among the most notable services are Twitter, Tumblr, Plurk, Emote.in, Squeelr, Beeing, Jaiku and identi.ca. More recently, varieties of services and software with the feature of microblogging have been developed. Squeelr adds geolocation and pictures to the microblog, while eliminating user accounts, making it an anonymous microblogging service. Plurk has a timeline view which integrates video and picture sharing. Emote.in has a concept of sharing emotions, built over microblogging; with a timeline. Pownce (developed by Digg founder Kevin Rose with three other developers) integrated microblogging with file sharing and event invitations. Following its acquisition by SixApart Pownce has been shut down effective December 15, 2008 while an upcoming replacement "Motion" is in the works.

Other leading social networking websites Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, and XING also have their own microblogging feature, better known as status updates.

Users and organizations are also able to set up their own microblogging service. Open source and free software is available for download for this purpose.[3]

With the growth of microblogging, many users want to maintain presence in more than one or more social networks. Services such as Socialthing and Profilactic will aggregate microblogs from multiple social networks into a single list. Services such as Ping.fm will send out your microblog to multiple social networks.


Several studies, most notably by Harvard Business School and Sysomos, have tried to analyze the usage behavior of Microblogging services.[4][5] Many of these studies show that for services such as Twitter, there is a small group of active users contributing to most of the activity.[6] Sysomos' Inside Twitter survey, based on more than 11 million users, shows that 10% of Twitter users account for 86% of all activity.

Twitter, Facebook and other microblogging services are also becoming a platform for marketing and public relations,[7] with a sharp growth in the number of social media marketers. The Sysomos study shows that this specific group of marketers on Twitter is much more active than general user population, with 15% following more than 2,000 people. This is in sharp contrast to only 0.29% of overall Twitter users who follow more than 2,000 people.[5]

Microblogging services have also emerged as an important source of real-time news updates for recent crisis situations, such as Mumbai terror attacks or Iran protests.[8][9] The short nature of updates allow users to post news items quickly in real-time, reaching its audience in seconds.

The findings of a study by Emily Pronin of Princeton University and Harvard University's Daniel Wegner have been cited as a possible explanation for the rapid growth of microblogging. The study suggests a link between short bursts of activity and feelings of elation, power and creativity.[10]

Microblogging for organizational usage

Micro-blogging has the potential to become a new informal communication medium especially for collaborative work. Over the last few years communication patterns have shifted primarily from face-to-face communication to more online communication in E-mail, IM, and other tools. As more collaboration is being done remotely through technology, there are relatively fewer opportunities for face to face informal conversations. In addition because of time constraints at work due to employee downsizing there is more concern about interruptions along with convenience brought by IM and E-mail.

Many individuals like sharing the whereabouts and status updates in Microblogging. This highlights microblogging’s potential to support informal communication among co- workers. The areas where it looks to impact are the informational effects and the social and emotional effects. The informational effects include increased opportunistic valuable information sharing, expertise realizing, building and maintaining common ground. The social and emotional effects are mainly enhancing the feeling of connectedness among co-workers.

Some microblogging services, like Qaiku provide private channels and permission management tools for organizational microblogging.

Issues with microblogging

The main issues with micro blogging are privacy, security, and integration. Privacy is a major issue due to the concerns of broadcasting social or work information to everyone who follows their feed. About security, people[who?] are worried about the public seeing possible sensitive work information on public microblogging sites like Twitter. Integration could be the hardest issue to overcome because the company and its employees would have to adopt microblogging into the corporate culture. This would take time since companies would need to recognize its value before they could embrace it.

Related concepts

Instant messaging systems display status, but generally only one of a few choices, such as: available, off-line, away. Away messages (messages displayed when the user is away) form a kind of microblogging.

In the Finger protocol, the .project and .plan files are sometimes used for status updates similar to microblogging.

See also


  1. Tumblelogs (kottke.org)
  2. Article on thws.cn. A Chinese site, but the article is in English. Retrieved August 4, 2008.
  3. "StatusNet". http://status.net/. Retrieved 2010-01-05. 
  4. "New Twitter Research: Men Follow Men and Nobody Tweets". Harvard Business School. 2009-06-01. http://blogs.harvardbusiness.org/cs/2009/06/new_twitter_research_men_follo.html. Retrieved 2009-06-23. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Inside Twitter: An In-depth Look Inside the Twitter World". Sysomos. 2009-06-10. http://www.sysomos.com/insidetwitter/. Retrieved 2009-06-23. 
  6. "The More Followers You Have, The More You Tweet. Or Is It The Other Way Around?". TechCrunch. 2009-06-10. http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/06/10/the-more-followers-you-have-the-more-you-tweet-or-is-it-the-other-way-around/. Retrieved 2009-06-23. 
  7. "Businesses using Twitter, Facebook to market goods". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 2009-06-21. http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09172/978727-96.stm. Retrieved 2009-06-23. 
  8. "First Hand Accounts Of Terrorist Attacks In India On Twitter, Flickr". TechCrunch. 2008-11-26. http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/11/26/first-hand-accounts-of-terrorist-attacks-in-india-on-twitter/. Retrieved 2009-06-23. 
  9. "Twitter on Iran: A Go-to Source or Almost Useless?". 2009-06-22. http://www.findingdulcinea.com/news/technology/2009/June/Twitter-on-Iran-a-Go-to-Source-or-Almost-Useless.html. Retrieved 2009-06-23. 
  10. "Could this be a factor in the allure of microblogs?". http://thelaughingbuddha.wordpress.com/2009/04/19/could-this-be-a-factor-in-the-allure-of-microblogs/. 
  11. Burnham, Kristin (2009-12-01). "12 Microblogging Tools to Consider". IDG CIO.com. http://www.cio.com/article/509433/12_Microblogging_Tools_to_Consider. 
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