Brent Simmons points to my post on microblogs and asks:
“Is the web we lost gone forever? Was it a brief golden age before the rise of Facebook and Twitter and The Algorithms of Engagement?”
But he quickly follows with an alternate view: that it’s a blip and we’ll get back on track. And that’s what I believe.
Instead of accepting a common opinion that Twitter is slowly replacing RSS readers, we should flip that around. What kind of changes could be made to RSS readers to embrace microblogging and make Twitter itself less important? Because once we do that, we get back control of our own short-form content and at the same time encourage open tools that will survive independent of whatever happens with Twitter and Facebook in the future.
I received some other great feedback about defining what it means to be a microblog post. One question that I didn’t address is links. Noah Read writes:
“It has consistently annoyed me that Twitter and App.net’s links count against my character count. It seems to run counter to what I love about microblogging, carefully chosen words communicating a succinct idea. I often have a pretty good tweet composed and then I paste in the link to a site or image and have to rework the whole thing.”
And David Ely says that a microblog post…
“Contains a single thought, a link with short commentary, or a photo with a caption.”
Whereas a full blog post would often contain multiple links. Certainly a lot of what is posted to Twitter and Facebook is just a single link with short commentary.
I also noticed recently that Dave Winer’s Radio3 includes links in the text when tweeting, but in the RSS feed the text and the link are split out. The URL goes in the RSS item’s link tag. While this is easy enough to support in tools, it’s surprising if you consider the link part of the content, not metadata. (I also expect inline HTML links to become even more common.)