When I was first trying to figure out how my microblog posts should look, I was thinking more like tweets and less like HTML. Eventually I settled on HTML for publishing and display, with Markdown for writing.
Here’s what a microblog post looks like in the timeline for my new web app:
You can compare that to how it looks when cross-posted to Twitter. It’s not exactly a fair comparison since the tweet was truncated, but it’s still incredible to me how much better these posts look if you allow inline links and some more characters.
Federico Viticci of MacStories provides some context for so-called textshots with the upcoming release of Wikipedia’s new app:
“The practice of sharing ‘textshots’ – screenshots of text, as they’re often referred to – has taken off among certain tech niches for two reasons. First, turning text into a static image is a primitive but effective workaround to circumvent Twitter’s 140-character limitations. But more importantly, humans have a natural tendency for convenience and visual feedback, and these two aspects are combined in the art of well crafted textshots: they save you a click, and they make shared passages of text more visually appealing.”
I don’t like textshots. They’re like DRM for tweets: a trade-off that obscures real metadata and text selection just to hack around Twitter’s limitations.
If I were building a Twitter-like social network, I’d certainly allow basic HTML styled text and inline images in a microblog post, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to encourage textshots.