Tag Archives: microblogging

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I don’t like Twitter threads.

In most cases, if something takes more space than one or two tweets to say, it’s easier to read as an article. It’s especially bad with very long threads, and those that aren’t crafted to make each tweet a unit. When sentences continue on from one tweet to the next as if they’re only line breaks, it makes it hard to pick out a statement to highlight, or where to start.

On the plus side: Tweets are more likely to be seen, more easily shared, and people can interact as they’re posted, like a live conversation. A thread that’s crafted to fit in 140-character chunks has a rhythm to it, like a daily comic strip collection vs. a comic book. And an unplanned tweetstorm gives both the writer a chance to get their ideas down quickly and the reader a chance to see them unfiltered.

Compared to an article, a tweetstorm provides immediacy, and any Twitter thread provides reach. But they’re still a pain to read.

Also written (of course) as this twitter thread.

Why am I still blogging? (And why about this stuff?)

This blog has been around 15 years. Social media has mostly moved on, to silos like Facebook and Twitter. People don’t follow random personal blogs. Topic-focused sites are what people actually read, and even that mainly following links from silos.

Meanwhile there are so many major things going on that make the things I post about here — comics, fandom, photos of things I found interesting, random tech thoughts — seem trivial.

So why keep a blog going? And why write about trivialities, and not big things like the battles over civil rights, healthcare, environmental protections, war?

As for the first: Some of it is stubbornness. And some of it is wanting to keep part of my writing/photo presence somewhere “permanent” (to the extent that anything online is).

As for the second: I’ve never really liked talking news and politics online. I rarely feel like I can add anything that hasn’t already been said (probably better) by someone else. Also, online conversation has gotten way too toxic. On the other hand, while the little things may be trivial, they add up. They add up to your life. It feels like I might actually have something to say that’s not already been said a thousand times by people more familiar with the issue than I am.

Plus it’s a way to assert some normality in a world that feels decidedly abnormal.

I’m not likely to come up with anything super-profound on the most important topics, but I can make short statements, and I can amplify other voices. And I’m trying to come to grips with the fact that that’s important. I’ve been reading a lot more and posting a lot less over the past year or so, but even if I can’t say anything profound, I shouldn’t stay silent.

So I’ve been microblogging, and linking, and reposting — all things that are better suited for a service that’s built around those use cases. When I have something longer to say, I do try to pull it in here, because a blog post is better than a Twitter thread… But I think more people probably see my retweets than my blog posts, anyway.

Mobile Apps and Spotty Connections

Portable Cellular Phone Tower
I believe that any network-aware mobile app should assume network access will be spotty. People step into elevators, ride buses through tunnels, attend large events where they’re competing with thousands of other phones…there are all kinds of reasons you can lose your connection.

That’s why I like the sync approach taken by Gmail on Android. Read, write, label, file, reply…pretty much anything can be done without a connection, and it’ll push your changes as soon as you get back into range of a signal. That’s also why I’m more likely to skim Twitter than Facebook while waiting for the elevator at work – Ubersocial has already synced recent tweets for me to read, but Facebook usually can’t even load until the doors open and I lose all access.

Right now, though, I’m looking for an offline posting app. I’m planning for Long Beach Comic Con next month, and I know from experience that T-Mobile has no signal at all on the main floor of the convention center. I’d like to be able to tap out a tweet when I think of it, hit send, and have it queue up the post until the next time I make my way up the escalator to the lobby. (Ubersocial used to do this, but doesn’t seem to anymore.)

What I’d really like to do, though, is upload photos offline to Twitter, Instagram or Tumblr. It’s not a huge deal, since I can still post when I surface for lunch or coffee — that’s when the photos would actually go out after all — but if you’re going to make a point of posting things in the moment, it helps if you don’t have to hold that moment in your mind so long that it distracts you from experiencing the next one.

Any recommendations?

The Culture of *Now*

Speedster's-eye view of a Chicago street.

It’s astonishing how short the Internet’s attention span is these days.

Last Friday I made a point to post my photos of Endeavour’s final flight as quickly as possible. The shuttle’s carrier landed just before 1:00pm, and I put off grabbing lunch until I had uploaded my best pictures. My Flickr traffic jumped up by a factor of 5 that day…and was back to normal on Saturday.

A few years ago, I could post convention photos a week or more after the event and people would view them in significant numbers. If a convention ended on Sunday, I usually tried to put my pictures online by Monday or Tuesday, then add them to groups over the course of a week. These days, if the photos aren’t up during the con, no one seems to care. And even if they’re up, they’d better be labeled and submitted to groups immediately. Sure, there’s a bump, but by Tuesday, interest is already dropping off.

Sometimes it seems like even waiting until evening to transfer photos from the camera is too long. If it’s not pushed straight from your phone to Instagram within five minutes, your potential audience is already moving on to the next thing.

I used to review Flash comics at Speed Force, but it became clear that whenever I missed the day of release, I got half as many readers, and if I didn’t have the review up by the end of the weekend, only regular readers would even see it. And there wouldn’t be any discussion, because everyone had already hashed things out on other sites.

A while back, I wondered, Is now better? I guess I have the answer: “Yes, if you want people to actually see it.”

Is *Now* Better?

I spotted something interesting while walking to lunch, took a photo with my camera, and then took a photo with my phone so that I could post it to Twitter immediately.

Then I thought: why?

  • Is it breaking news?
  • Is it going to be any less interesting if I wait?
  • Would it add to an in-progress conversation?
  • Really, is there any reason that posting it now would be better than posting it later?

And on the flip side:

  • Does the photo quality matter?
  • Does it need more explanation than I can provide at this time?

I decided that in this case, it was self-explanatory, and neither the timing nor the quality made much difference. But since I had the better photo, I might as well wait until I could upload it. (Sometimes the photo quality really matters, though: my phone’s photos of that rainbow cloud just weren’t worth the effort, so it’s a good thing I rushed back to the office for a better camera.)

There was a time when if I wanted to post a photo online, I had to finish a roll of film, send it to a photo lab, wait for them to develop it, and then scan the print. I really like not being limited by that, whether it’s because I’m posting about a current event like Comic-Con or an election, or just because I think something’s fantastic (or hilarious) and really want to share it.

Sometimes it’s really useful to be able to post photos online instantly. Other times, it’s worth asking: Is now better?

A bit of craziness: I wrote this post in June 2010, about this sign. Then I decided it needed a bit of work before I posted it…and forgot about it. Interestingly enough, the post is still just as valid as it would have been a year ago, and it demonstrates that sometimes, now isn’t better, even if it’s not worse.

Of course, it also demonstrates an advantage of posting immediately. There’s no chance of forgetting about it that way!