The Where, The What, and The Why of Microblogs


The Where:

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.

The What:

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. 

The Why:

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.


7 thoughts on “The Where, The What, and The Why of Microblogs

  1. Hi Taylor, I really enjoyed reading your blog. You provide a great summary of this week reading and learning about microblogging. I just created my Tweeter account and have found really great information about health topics such as difference between heart attack and cardiac arrest. I started following a lot of important health organizations and have found really great material to share at work. I am actually focusing on finding bilingual patient education related to vaccines, Tweeter has been really helpful.

  2. I think it’s really cool of you to send the link out to the whole class. This is definitely the class to do that in :]

    As for your post, it’s great. This is my type of blog — the kind that is very relatable, like someone is making light conversation with me rather than lecturing. The blog flowed really nicely and kept me engaged. I also agree that microblogs are the way of the future. I have such a short attention span, I barely made it through your whole blog!

    I do think when information is health-related, that sometimes longer blogs are better than short blogs. I appreciate short posts that are quick to the point, so that I know what I need to know without getting lost in paragraphs of details, but sometimes it’s also really helpful to have more information for better understanding.

    You also got me thinking about —- WAIT, I SEE THE SQUIRREL!

  3. Hi Taylor, I like your idea about sending us your link. Your post is great and it kept me engaged. I agree with the comment above, your blog feels like we are having a conversation and at the same time I’m learning something 🙂

  4. Hi Taylor,
    It was great to send an individualized message to encourage responses. I am exactly the person who is completely distracted by all the components of “on-lineness” and just following all the links to all the various things to do every week has me getting up from my computer thinking, “I think I need a snack” because gettting up is my (bad) solution when overwhelmed by technology. By sending the message to my canvas inbox with a direct link to your blog, I was here in one click and did not get myself sidetracked by all the distractions of assignments, other blogs etc. So good move with that.

    As for the blog post, I have a few thoughts.

    -The casual, conversation style is friendly and allows the reader not to take themselves too seriously. This is great for readers like me who are really trying to figure out the basics still.
    -The breakdown of the where, what and why, I like very much as a strategy for learning new things. I’m going to show my ignorance in that I was not sure if microblogging was just a short blog post or was referring to Twitter until almost the end of the post. If the “What” section was first, that would have helped greatly, perhaps followed by using a microblog to say what a microblog is as a way to show an example.
    -The reference to the book was great for our class, but maybe a link to a book summary would be good for other readers.
    -I think after discussing the general concept, a new heading to show you are then discussing its use in public health would have helped that transition.
    – I really like the point you make about microblogging helping to allow those who don’t feel they have enough to say to still contribute. This is a really interesting idea and I wonder how this plays out with respect to health related topics.

    Good job. Kept my attention and I learned several new things!

  5. This blog is a great summary of everything! I like your “because everyone knows everyone knows everyone knows” interjection from the reading. You used a few different structures within the same blog to keep interest.

    I think the one thing I would recommend is breaking up the words a bit more with pictures. Makes it seem less like reading an essay without long length sentences. That is in our “SQUIRREL” – attention deficit world.

  6. Great post Taylor!
    I really liked your highly relaxed and engaging style of writing. It made me feel like I wasn’t learning something, until I got to the end when I realised I had learned a LOT!
    Nice big picture at the beginning that drew me in as a reader.
    Really good summary of the material, was actually pretty information heavy, but I didn’t realize it while reading.
    Great structure – breaking it down into different understandable sections and then further breaking it down with numbers was great.
    Great in text link to relevant material also.
    Loved you use of SQUIRREL! found that delightful and amusing!

    And only as I am supposed to being giving substantive feedback – probably could have broken up each section by a picture to make it less of an imposing amount of text to read in one go.
    But really that was all I could think of. Great blog – I’d definitely follow you!!

  7. Thanks for “Tweeting” your blog to the class and welcoming invite to review, it worked very well for me! Humorous yet very informative post.
    I noticed that tags #hashtaghealth and #healthblog at the top of your blog act like links to the additional great resources already published on Innovations in Health Communications. For example:

    I also got plentiful ideas for use of Twitter reading interesting blog 140 Health Care uses for Twitter. Thanks for sharing!

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