The difference between real time and blogs

There’s been a bit of talk lately in the technosphere about the role of blogs in the new real-time web. Louis Gray has a wonderful post on the subject that reflects my own opinion, “Blogging Is Still the Foundation In A World of Streams.”

The blog is the foundation and center for who you are – either as an individual, or a brand. While I believe the best bloggers in the world are participating outside of their blog, on Twitter, FriendFeed, Facebook and everywhere else, to only participate in those areas leaves a gaping hole. The world of lifestreaming and real-time is fun, but it can be as deep as a soap opera in a world that still demands insightful documentaries and news reporting.

I think there’s another benefit to a blog: it’s a mandatory time out.

I’ve gotten into my share of online tussles over the years. Most are because I’ve hit the “reply” button in the heat of the moment. From where I’m sitting, the real time web is just a collection of knee-jerk reactions. Sometimes emotional. Tweets may be intelligent and interesting, but they’re rarely careful and measured. When started, the snowball is difficult to stop as folks are reacting to the initial spark long after your own anger has subsided. It usually goes along until all parties run out of steam or someone compares the current situation to the Holocaust, whichever comes first.

I don’t know about anyone else, but when I work on a blog post it’s a process. I’m Googling for “evidence” to back up my position, or following links. I’m re-reading what I wrote, rewriting sentences as I build a case for my position on a subject. By the time I hit “publish” I’m usually feeling confident that my post accurately reflects my point of view with some amount of argument to back it up. Right or wrong, if I take someone on in my blog, I’ve at least considered the counter point first.

9 times out of 10 for hot-button subjects, I talk myself out of making the post as I’m trying to create it. I realize that the cutting remark isn’t worth posting after all. Salvation is a “delete” key away. For that reason whenever I feel myself reacting in the moment, I try and force myself to think of a blog post first…before I leave that comment. Even in those months that I wasn’t publishing much content here, I was still composing posts in my head as a way of getting my thoughts straight.

Not every blog post composed has to be published, but it’s rare that someone gives themselves the time and space to cool off when replying to a tweet or a FriendFeed thread. It’s too short, it’s too easy, it’s too quick. And that’s the reason why I think the so-called real-time web (Facebook, FriendFeed, Twitter, etc.) should never truly replace the old-school blog.

Blogging, by the very nature of its drudgery and delay, forces you to think of the greater impact. No matter how active I get on Twitter or Facebook, I need the very act of blogging to come back to and keep me sane…whether I hit “publish” or not.

Does my perfect Twitter client exist?

Every time I find a laptop bag I say I love, Eric rolls his eyes. “You say that now, but in 6 months you’ll be complaining about it like all the rest.” I tell him that the problem isn’t me, it’s that the perfect bag hasn’t been invented (that I can afford, at least) so until then I settle for the best I can get with one hand while I’m looking for utopia with the other.

That’s the way I am with Twitter clients right now. I tried at least 6 of them on the iPhone, (Tweetie and Twitterific are currently my favorites) and I’ve tried so many on the Mac desktop and in the browser window I’ve lost count. On the desktop, none quite fit the bill for this tweet addict who has posted over 5,500 updates in 2.5 years.

In no particular order, here’s what would make a perfect desktop Twitter client for me. Tweetie is pretty close, but I’m getting impatient at the lack of feature-improvement updates. I understand that @atebits is a one-man show and he’s moving. Doesn’t make waiting any easier.

Continue reading “Does my perfect Twitter client exist?”

Twitter for Those Left Behind

You either get Twitter or you don’t.

Those that don’t will typically post comments like this one I just caught on FriendFeed:

Do people even really use twitter? I guess I mean in the sense that you actually accomplish some goal, or connect with people you physically know or work with?

Yes, Twitter is a lot of noise and useless crap. But it can be very, very useful. Here’s my story:

We found out last Thursday afternoon that Eric had to go to Bogota, Colombia on Monday for a 2-day work assignment. Now I’m sure there are a lot of really nice people in Colombia, but until this week all I cared to know about the South American country was that Americans shouldn’t travel there.

From an active US Government travel advisory.

The incidence of kidnapping in Colombia has diminished significantly from its peak at the beginning of this decade. Nevertheless, terrorist groups such as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the National Liberation Army (ELN) and other criminal organizations continue to kidnap and hold civilians for ransom or as political bargaining chips. No one is immune from kidnapping on the basis of occupation, nationality, or other factors. The FARC continue to hold three U.S. government contractors, having captured them when their plane crashed in a remote region of the country in February 2003. In January 2008, the FARC kidnapped six Colombian tourists from a beach on the Pacific coast in Chocó Department. Although the U.S. government places the highest priority on the safe recovery of kidnapped Americans, it is U.S. policy not to make concessions to or strike deals with kidnappers. Consequently, the U.S. government’s ability to assist kidnapping victims is limited.

Gee, have a nice trip dear.

Eric was assured he’d have a driver and that he’d be in “safe” areas other times. Still, I was very nervous about this trip.

Eric started using Twitter a few weeks ago. Remembering the story of the man who was saved from an Egyptian jail thanks to Twitter, I asked Eric to be sure to tweet as often as he could. Armed with m.twitter.com and a Twitter client on his laptop, that’s exactly what he did. Throughout the few days he was gone, in between some short phone calls, I was able to check his Twitter page and be assured he was okay. I’m sure tweets like, “Waiting in hotel lobby for colleagues before heading to office” weren’t very exciting to his other 54 followers, but it meant a whole lot to me.

In fact, he didn’t have to call and wake the kids at 5:30 am yesterday when his plane landed at JFK. I was already up and saw it on Twitter.