Aug 162012
 

I had the need recently to create an outlet for some overflow content that was bouncing around in my head. I considered setting up yet another twitter account for this but thought better of it. So I grabbed my wordpress.com login and setup a new blog literally in seconds just as they claim and at zero cost. Then I start to notice some of the social and Twitter like features on wordpress.com.

Is twitter really social media?

The lack of social interaction and conversation on twitter has always bugged me. I like sprouting off a cryptic line just as much as the next person but I like to have some conversation about a piece on occasion too. The programmers and techies in my circle don’t seem to reply much, maybe it’s just the people that I follow? I know some of them must talk to each other but I can’t easily see their conversations or join in, not very social.

This facet has really kept my primary social stomping ground on Facebook. Which I, like other techies tried to avoid for the longest time. The reality is that it just works so I’m still there.

Add to that the fact that you might follow people that are a little stuck up and feel that they are above you (whether they are or not) and you certainly don’t have a peer to peer social thing going on. You could fall into this trap with Google plus too but it’s immediately obvious to put the iconic people that you follow into an appropriate circle and not expect to have a direct conversation with them. For example I follow Richard Branson and Joe Satriani but they are in my Following circle. They are both prolific posters and I can easily filter them out by circle (see just because you think you are important doesn’t mean you are always to everyone). If they were in my twitter stream I wouldn’t be able to see any other news.

Yes there are newer twitter tools that allow improved filtering, searching, grouping and following threads but it just doesn’t feel native and natural. I currently have 3 twitter apps installed on my Android mobile phone, TweetCaster, TweetDeck and official Twitter. None of them is feature complete and does everything that I want. The main reason I use TweetDeck? Fast posting the same short message to Facebook and Twitter, guess where I then go to have the social media experience?

To me twitter is a news feed

To me twitter is the first news feed that I have actually found myself using. I was never a newspaper reader even after working in a news print plant for some 7 years! I read maybe 3 newspapers a year. Sit myself down at 6pm to watch the evening television news every darn day at the exact same time, I think not. I have tried using news and blog feeds in my mail client (Icedove) and Google’s Reader both online and on my phone but just don’t find myself using it.

Twitter however provides peer vetted and recommended stories and articles many of which would not get any air play otherwise. This news is relatively well targeted, I’m actually interested in it, and it’s easy to access just click the short link. I can sit on the couch in complete comfort any time, scroll through my received tweets and read any full articles that interest me using dolphin browser on my phone.

Twitter is not much of a content service

I appreciate that some people like the simpleness of twitter but there is minimalist and then there is lack of core features.

Turns out I am quite the philosophical writer on occasion which is not all that surprising. After all coding is writing and writing takes a certain creative logical approach. My ideas just don’t fit into 140 characters all that often. I will be recommending this story to my twitter followers simply with the title, like I said: News Feed see.

Another miss applied core feature of twitter is tagging. Yes there are #hashtags and @username but put more than two of those in a tweet and you can’t say anything else! The tagging should have been external to the message character count but still part of the data packet. We had no technology limit here. Instead this encouraged a limit on the available length for usernames! Txt messaging quickly overcame this technology imposed character limit by chaining multiple texts together automatically, so what made twitter think going backwards was the right way?

Notice how you don’t use all that many abbreviations in txts any more? My Galaxy S2 has Swype on it, it’s so much faster to scribble the full word. Further multiple abbreviations don’t work in a tweet because you don’t have that context and close understanding with your audience for them to be able to interpret what you just said and you can’t explain any misunderstandings like in an IRC chat client, no conversation remember. Shorthand is for when speed is the priority not showing how clever you are, that takes longer.

So is wordpress.com perhaps twitter done right?

Let’s see, using the GPL Android client I can now sprout off any content that I like to a proper website. Self hosted or a wordpress.com blog. One liner, no problem just stick it in the header of a post, add a dot in the body, fire. One paragraph to go with that one liner? No problem, even add it later when you are ready to elaborate. Picture with a link and any amount of explanation, done and all the content is native to the platform.

  • One liner? Check.
  • Paragraph(s)? Check.
  • Photographs and Images? Check.
  • Video? Check.
  • Draft ideas for later? Check.
  • Save a private idea? Check.
  • Schedule a delayed post? Check.
  • Follow a blog or post in wordpress.com? Check.
  • Followed posts now appear in a reader with good subscription options. Check.
  • Trending stories? Freshly Pressed. Check.
  • Like a post? Check.
  • Categories and tags? Check.
  • Retweet == Reblog. Check.
  • Search, really? Dude what is Google for? PS good luck finding that tweet you were after. Check.
  • Search, again? Search a specific blog including your own. Check.
  • Search, still? WordPress.com reader has search too. Check.
  • Search, yawn, WordPress.com saved search topic. CHECK.

One thing we might be missing is tagging a person, haven’t found that yet. That is more a fact that people don’t have global ID’s. You can’t @someone in a tweet if they don’t have a twitter account either. Perhaps there is some OpenID integration here that I haven’t found yet. However you can simply link their website or article. They will likely see the pingback and be grateful for the back link, maybe even come over for a CONVERSATION. Also you could link their Gravatar profile.

There does seem to be a fair bit of community and social interaction going on, but naturally I’m not too deep into it yet having just started at wordpress.com

WordPress Post Types

There are possibilities here but I just don’t find myself using wordpress post types, they don’t really do anything? However there are Status and Quote post types that should be applied by wordpress.com to embrace what we are talking about here.

Bonus Points for WordPress

The content is all yours and way more valuable in a website. You can link to other sites and provide greater link value than a tweet. You can edit, re-arrange or migrate to a privately hosted wordpress install should your content be a massive success. Maybe even generate some revenue! You can theme and present your content extensively if you feel the need.

Gavin Kromhout:


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