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Twitter and Blogging

Twitter fits the way I think better than blogging. It lets me express my usually hyperventilating mind, each gasping thought shallow, rapid, and impermanent. It’s a real challenge to write a cohesive piece, but I think blogging may train me up to think in a different way than I naturally do.

The problem I have is that I’ll have an idea, start a blog entry about it, then either get distracted or have to go do something, but I carry on the conversation with myself that I started in the blog. I reach all kinds of resolution and gain insight, and by the time I go to write it up, I’m stuck with just the result rather than the journey, which is really the more interesting piece. I wish there was a way I could capture my subvocalizations so that I could actually log my thought process. I’m doing my best, but sometimes blogging feels like rewatching a movie with a tricky ending. I already know where it’s going, and it’s hard to take myself along for the ride again without tipping my hand as to the result.

Below is an excerpt of my “Buzz” conversation regarding my struggles to find a place for my thoughts to go. Does anybody else have a hard time figuring out what to say and where?

Feb 12 Daniel Kessler: Dammit new social media plan: Tumblr is just a big twitter, wordpress is a blog
Feb 12 Albert Yao: keep it simple, do everything within google!
Feb 12 Chris Love: Hey Daniel, do you really think Tumblr is just a big Twitter? I think the difference for Tumblr is that it’s a community formed on the basis of interests more than previous friendships and acquaintances (though as you know I’m now friends with Mills, Peter Santiago and a few other tumblers). What do you think?
Feb 12 Chris Love: But I don’t see any reason to continue with Facebook and Twitter though
Feb 12 Daniel Kessler: The real struggle I’m having right now is what to do with ideas. Chris, if you remember my writing style, my thinking style is quite similar. My thoughts are usually staccato bursts that don’t readily self-cogitate and unfurl. Twitter is excellent for this as it fits the way I already think.

In my continuing struggle to train myself to be a more meditative, fluid thinker, I’m trying to practice better blogging. So often I end up with 20 half-written drafts that were very interesting when started, but that I lose interest in over time.

For me it’s less about the community than it is about finding a repository for my thoughts. I think that you and your Tumblr-circle are all better trained thinkers than me, so you do an excellent job of having semi free-form, semi structured conversations. I’m still just trying to find a receptacle for my thoughts, and I want one storage device that fits what my brain spits out, and another that forces me to stretch and grow.

For me, WordPress or other blogging platforms are great for longer meditations and sharing, but don’t necessarily invite commentary since they can be intimidating and lengthy. Tumblr seems like a great place for reposting material that others have drafted, expanding on it, then kicking it out to the Tumblsphere for further criticism. I just need to figure out where it fits in my continuum of creative outlets.
Feb 12 Chris Love: Daniel, I think your entire post here belies your estimation of your own powers of thinking and expression. I too am trying to find a way to figure out what forms of web communication fit my time, moods, modes and methods best, but aiming at constantly morphing and moving targets seems to make this more a process of error than trial.

I think you’re right about Tumblr: it’s great as a sketchbook for one’s burgeoning thoughts and ideas, but it’s also a fantastic source for cogent bursts of information about political and cultural events. For example, Sea of Green’s live-blogging of the demonstrations in Iran is far more informative and useful than anything coming out of the mainstream press right now.

What do you think makes Twitter more useful (user-base aside) than Buzz? Man I’m confused these days.
Feb 12 Daniel Kessler: I appreciate your reassurances and take comfort that I’m not the only one struggling with that.

I’ve enjoyed Sea of Green’s stuff and will probably subscribe to it in Google Reader (thanks for so often reblogging, it’s kept me more up to date on Iran than I have been in a while).

The reason I’m still in Twitter is fairly simple and unexciting. I understand Twitter’s API well enough to piggy back on publicly available scripts, and there are enough Twitter “bots” listening to me that I can do all sorts of neat commands from a launcher app I run on my computers. If I have something I need to do, I can tweet a direct message to the “ToodleDo” bot which will make sure it gets added to my to do list.

For now, Buzz is a place where I’m happy to concatenate my stuff, and comment on it, but I’m not yet that interested in directly putting content here.

To be honest, Buzz is pushing me more towards wordpress because of its integration. If I could get content from Tumblr into buzz easily, I’d totally use that more. I just want a place that concatenates all of my activity so that it’s easy to see what I’ve been up to and thinking.

February 16, 2010 Posted by | Personal | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Content Concatenation

One of the more exciting things, I think, to come out of social media lately is the ability to share and have seamlessly threaded discussions on a variety of issues. Facebook does this fairly well within its own domain, but with some limitations (that I think they’re working on fixing). Most significantly they’ve eliminated geographic constraints in having real time conversations. It’s sort of what I think chat rooms were always supposed to be, but by giving conversations context it cuts down on the cacphony. However, most of the discussions are, as in real life, sparked by the minutia of our daily existence: they are commentaries on birthdays, new pets, photos of silly hats, etc. That’s not to say these experiences aren’t important, which is why I still spend a lot of time on facebook, fulfilling these social needs. For now, facebook does a good job of alerting us as to where these conversations are happening and keeping us in the loop, but it doesn’t generate an easily searchable (YET!) record of our conversations, which for the most part is fine; how often do we really need to recall one of these comments.

In real life, so many potentially good conversations begin with, “I was reading a piece in…” or “Did you see…” and unfortunately the answer is often no and the conversation enters a period of retelling rather than analysis. Facebook is starting to fill this gap, too, which “Share on Facebook” bookmarklets and the ever-improving News Feed, but it’s still a little clunky. I do most of my reading via RSS using Google Reader (which has both really hurt and really helped my productivity), and the recent abilities to share and comment on things from there is really fantastic. However, it has nothing like the audience that Facebook does, and when I read neat stuff, I want to flag it as such and be able to have discussions on the common content with friends.

Unfortunately, right now only one other friend actually uses Google Reader, and I don’t know how many of my friends are motivated enough to snag my RSS feed (here it is if you are link, RSS recommended), and even if they do, they need to be in Google Reader to participate in the discussion. Google Reader and Facebook were not playing nicely recently, so that, in effect, sharing an item on Google Reader basically meant sharing it with Chris, which made me a bit more self-conscious when sharing articles.

I’ve seen people really have fun with Tumblr, which seems like a happy medium between micro-blogging and the kind of full-fledged stuff that I do here, but it has NO native commenting system (though that can be brought in through disqus) but still does a seemingly poor job of at least identifying trends for posted items in the way that Google Reader does (if I “share” something there I can, I believe, see discussions happening on it from a multitude of such sharers). But, Tumblr plays nice with Facebook, so whenever I saw something I liked in Google Reader, I snagged it, put it in Tumblr, and tried to say something to justify my having gone to the trouble of posting it.

It seems that suddenly Google Reader is playing nicely in a somewhat passive way with Facebook, which is fine with me. For now, if there’s something quick I want to bump up to Facebook, I’ll probably grab it in Tumblr. While I do think snagging it in Facebook would be fine, too, it’s nice to have a clean, outside source of my interesting quotes, and it’s better eye candy in the facebook feed. For now, I think I’ll let Facebook handle commenting on stories like that.

I’ll continue to use Google Reader whenever I come across something neat while reading RSS, or if I happen upon a more full length/less-sexy NY Times article I like or something like that.

I hope that I’m not just creating uses for the various social media stuff that I’m doing. It’s just getting tricky with so many services and so many different users. Ultimately the goal is the same. I want to share interesting things I come across on the web while allowing discussion on them, while grabbing the same things from others. For now I hopefully have it.

The upside of all this is that I’ve realized just how much terrific media we live in an age of. To be honest, this particular post is so meta most people probably won’t make it here, to the end, because there’s much better stuff out there. It’s kind of neat to see a consumption mindset applied to ideas.

Editor’s Note: This post is part of a new push for me to, more or less, rush content out the door. I have way too many half-written posts and drafts sitting in my draft box, so I’m hoping that just getting stuff out will be fine even if it comes at the cost of polish, but I’m curious to hear your thoughts. Feel free to comment using whatver media you do to read this! 😛

August 12, 2009 Posted by | Personal | , , | 2 Comments