Monday, May 19, 2008

Alternative pseudo-microblog publishing during Wednesday's Twit-Out

Perhaps when you're driving to a faculty retirement dinner, you're thinking about the faculty member who is retiring.

But when I was driving to a faculty retirement dinner in Claremont on Saturday night, I was thinking about microblogging.

The Twit-Out (i.e. a period of brief refraining from Twitter use - kind of a secular version of I Corinthians 7:5-6) is coming on Wednesday, and I'm taking the opportunity to experiment with various ideas in advance of the Twit-Out. So as I was driving down Foothill Boulevard on Saturday, I decided to set up a pseudo-microblog that would publish to FriendFeed, and allow people to add comments in FriendFeed. In fact, I disabled the comment facility in the blog itself, and I will not be adding Disqus to this blog, at least for the moment. (Disqus comments don't show up on my mobile phone, and for my tests, mobile phone access is essential.)

Following the naming convention that I've used on all recent Ontario Emperor blogs, this blog name starts with "mr" (which, if you didn't know, represents "Mister" - I respect myself). The name "mrmicro" is taken by another blog, so I am using the blog title "mrmicro-oe" (Ontario Emperor). Here is what it says at the top of the blog:

for a twit-out or a #twittout; mrmicro-oe is an official Ontario Emperor blog; comment at

(As I noted previously, a #twittout is when Twitter goes down, while a twit-out is when you refrain from using Twitter.)

Well, once I set up my new toy on Sunday, I had to play with it.

My first post was sent as a text message from my mobile phone. As you can see, the first part of the text message (up to and including the comma) was duplicated in the title of the post. In the resulting FriendFeed entry, however, you have to click through to the blog itself to see the entire message. Not necessarily desirable. (Incidentally, I haven't tested this specifically, but it is possible that this communication method may allow me to break the 140 character limit imposed by another famous microblogging service, although I'm not sure if some of the 160 available characters will be needed for other purposes.)

My second post was written directly into the blog page itself, and resulted in this FriendFeed entry.

My third post and my fourth post again originated from my mobile phone, but were sent as e-mails instead of as text messages. In the third post, I typed my text in the body of the message (similar to the second post), while in the fourth post, I typed my text in the title of the message only. I don't really care how they show up in the blog, though; I am more interested in the resulting FriendFeed entries for the third and the fourth items.

Please note that creation of this pseudo-microblog does not negate any of the problems that I found in last Friday's test. Specifically, posts from mrmicro-oe are potentially subject to the same FriendFeed lag (a/k/a by the #fflag hashtag) that apply to any other blog post - or, for that matter, any Twitter tweet (although it appears that tweets show up in FriendFeed relatively quickly). And, of course, since the comments only appear in FriendFeed, I will have the same problem viewing them if there are numerous comments on a post.

But this is another tool in my arsenal. (Fooled you...that one may end up in the Empoprise-IE blog.)

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