Let’s change the focus and put this microblogging business under the magnifying glass and see what makes it tick. Twitter, Tumblr, FriendFeed.
Heard of them?
Of course you have because you are in the know. You’ve got your finger on the pulse of this social media driven world and you have 10,000+ followers, right? You eat, breath, and sleep social media. You can be seen grabbing drinks with David Karp and shooting hoops with Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg. Growing up you made sure your alphabet soup only had 140 characters. In grade school you would begin all love letters with hashtags when passing notes in class. Your high school mascot was a twitter bird and you only know how to write a lowercase “f”.
Sound like you? Probably not, although I do applaud you if this hits closer to home than most. However, for myself and the millions of others who are stumbling around blind trying to navigate this world of tweets, chirps, quacks, cuckoos, squawks, and cheeps, let me lay down a bit of a road map.
What is a microblog? Well it is pretty much what it sounds like. Write a blog, cut the fat, throw it in the wash and polish it up with a catchy phrase, image, or video link and voilà, you have your microblog. So how is something so simple changing the way we interact as a society? Because “everyone knows that everyone knows that everyone knows.”
As Here Comes Everybody points out, shared awareness is a necessary ingredient for real public action. By keeping our friends, colleagues, fellow citizens, and the general public abreast of our actions, we are all given access to a plethora of health information that is distributed at lightening speed. All you have to do is subscribe to a site like Twitter or Tumblr, link your cell phone or email account and post updates or “follow” posts of other people or organizations. You have immediate access and instant publication power with few or no restrictions to content. Sounds incredible, right?
Well it is. So incredible in fact that there are over 300 million active users on Twitter and about 250 million blogs on Tumblr. That is more than the entire population of the United States. For those of you still groping in the dark trying to grasp this concept, here is an excellent tutorial for setting up and maintaining a Twitter account.
The public health implications using social media are endless. Health care uses can range from disaster alert and emergency response systems, drug safety alerts, issuing Amber alerts, crowdsourcing for health care resources, etc. The list goes on and on. For a more complete list, check out 140 Health Care uses for Twitter.
So now that I’ve told you the “Where” and the “What” regarding microblogging, I’m sure you can glean for yourself the “Why.” But just in case you are still sporting your best Stevie Wonder impression while trying to navigate the waters of microblogging, I’ll list out a couple great aspects of microblogs that blogs wish they had.
#1 – Short word limits. Don’t stress out about trying to compose your 5th symphony in blog form. Did I dot my “i”s and cross my “t”s? If you thought blogs were informal, microblogs are just “straight up chilled out man.” This allows those who have shied away from blogging due to time constraints or feeling that they don’t have enough to say to join in and have their voice heard.
#2 – Simplicity. No one is going to pause at cocktail hour or at the top of the ski slope to grab their computer and write a 1000 word blog post. Microblogging solves this issue. Just bust out your phone, login into your Twitter account, and tweet that ever so important detail of your life to the entire world.
#3 – Squirrel! The world of blogging is a fast-paced, rapid fire, war zone of ideas that are whipping through the blogosphere at neck wrenching speeds. Combine this with our society’s ever growing demand for real-time information and short attention spans, long winded blogs could soon become a thing of the past. Microblogs keep your information time relevant, keep your readers awake and interested, and keep your readers… wait, was that a SQUIRREL!
Nuts! Have I lost you? Well to the brave few who have made the journey to the bottom, you now know a few basics about microblogging. Blog on bloggers. And try and keep your comments to 140 characters. Otherwise you may lose me…SQUIRREL.