May 1st, 2008
Almost exactly a month ago, I blogged about “blogging vs. micro-blogging“. I now have a couple more pieces of data, which I think confirm the points I made in that first blog.
During the past month, I’ve written approximately 450 short “micro-blog” messages on Twitter; that works out to approximately 15 “tweets” a day. During the same time, I’ve managed to find the time to write approximately 5 blog postings/articles. That’s quite a difference: five blogs per month, versus 15 tweets per day.
What’s the explanation? Simple: I’ve been really, really busy for the past month — tons of work, deadlines, and two weeks of travel to India and Russia. It usually takes me an hour or two to compose a blog posting (this one is much shorter, but take a look at my “Visiting Russia” blog for a more typical example) — and when I’m really, really busy, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to find the time.
By contrast, a Twitter message takes less than a minute, and often just a few seconds. There is rarely any organization, preparation, investigation, analysis or other time-consuming activity. It’s just 140 characters (or less) of quick typing.
As I acknowledged in my earlier comment about the blogging/micro-blogging distinction, it’s certainly true that some of my Twitter messages are banal and trivial. But here’s a contrast: while I’ve been typing this blog entry, I’ve been watching (out of the corner of my eye) the steady stream of Twitter messages from my small community of “followers”. I noticed someone saying “I wish there was a version of Windows Live Writer for the Mac. I like using the Mac to write but blogging with the Mac blog tools is not fun.”
Without any serious thought, I typed a quick reply to this individual: “Have you tried Ecto as a Mac blogging tool? Works pretty well for me.” (And indeed it does: I’m using it to compose this blog posting!). My message took about 15 seconds, and barely represented a interruption/distraction at all; and while it didn’t transform society in any fundamental way, it may have provided some small benefit to one individual. Indeed, it might have been mildly interesting to a few dozen others who happen to see my tweet on their Twitter display.
It’s also interesting that the number of people who “follow” my Twitter messages has grown to the point where it’s approximately equal to the number of people who visit my blog … except that my blog-visitors are more likely to be frustrated by the fact that I’ve only posted five new articles in the past month. And the Twitter followers (as well as “indirect” followers who see my Twitter updates on Plaxo and Facebook) are likely to see a dozen “tweets” a day, which may help them remember who I am (in contrast to the person who posted a comment on my “Visiting Russia” blog posting that said, “Who is mr. Yourdon btw? Well known businessman?”).
Bottom line: hopefully my schedule will calm down in a couple of weeks, and I’ll be able to spend more time on old-fashioned blogging. But in the meantime, while things are busy, Twitter turns out to be a more effective way for me to stay in touch…