OPLIN 4Cast #218: Blog posts vs. social media posts

Many people think the recent protests and changes of government in the Middle East have been enabled by widespread use of Facebook and Twitter, and you may even have heard these upheavals called “Facebook revolutions.” This is certainly a very different use of social media than the more common status updates that inform the world of nothing more momentous than what someone ate for breakfast; this is social media used for broadcasting news and ideas, things that used to be the domain of blogs. These days, blogging seems to be waning while tweeting is becoming more important. (Recent 4cast blog postings, for example, are also summarized in Twitter and Facebook postings, which was not the practice when the 4cast was started about four years ago.) This subtle change in the way social media is used might result in changes to the social media itself.

  • Blogs wane as the young drift to sites like Twitter (New York Times/Verne G. Kopytoff)  “Among 18-to-33-year-olds [...] blogging dropped two percentage points in 2010 from two years earlier. Former bloggers said they were too busy to write lengthy posts and were uninspired by a lack of readers. Others said they had no interest in creating a blog because social networking did a good enough job keeping them in touch with friends and family.”
  • It’s Facebook vs. Twitter in the race to make the news social (GigaOM/Mathew Ingram)  “At one point not that long ago, it looked like Facebook might be trying to become a news platform in a different way, by aggregating news itself, as a way of becoming a sort of personalized newspaper for users. There were some initial moves in that direction that didn’t really go anywhere, and then more recently the network launched something it called ‘community pages,’ which aggregate posts based on topic keywords and looked as though they could become a news aggregation service.”
  • Why Twitter must expand beyond 140 characters (ReadWriteWeb/Richard MacManus)  “When Twitter launched its re-design in March last year, it adjusted to this increase of multimedia by enabling users of Twitter.com (still how the vast majority of people consume Twitter content) to view photos and video within Twitter’s website. It was a relatively small, but significant, step to lessen the burden of viewing multimedia content within Twitter. [...] It seems only a matter of time before Twitter enables users to view ‘long tweets’ within Twitter.com, in the same way that users can view videos and photos within the site.”
  • Why Twitter should never expand beyond 140 characters (TheNextWeb/Francis Tan)  “There’s actually a reason behind the not-so-arbitrary 140 character limit of Twitter and that is simply to fit in an SMS message. It’s a limitation that actually defines and sets Twitter apart from other services in so many good ways. It is easier to consume, cheaper in terms of SMS/data sent and received, and it actually encourages people to get straight to the point.”

Ohio blog fact:
You don’t have to look far for an example of a news blog that is enhanced (replaced?) by social media postings. If you are interested in Ohio political news, you may be a reader of Marc Kovac’s Capital Blog, but followers of his tweets (@OhioCapitalBlog) are also getting a lot of very timely political news—though admittedly, a good many of Mr. Kovac’s tweets only concern his favorite hot beverage.

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