Internet-savvy individuals are undoubtedly familiar with the terms ‘micro-blogging’ and ‘lifestreaming’, but there are still a number of people who do not know what they’re all about.
First, let’s define them. Micro-blogging, as the term implies, is blogging in small quantities. If blogging is eating a whole cake at one time, micro-blogging is doing it slice by slice. Posts in a micro-blog are usually limited to a certain number of characters—otherwise it won’t be micro anymore.
Lifestreaming, on the other hand, is broadcasting bits & pieces of your life and activities through digital media like the Internet and mobile phones.
Micro-blogging can be used to broadcast anything from what you ate for breakfast to the latest news in Iraq. The difference between micro-blogging and lifestreaming is that the latter is more of a collection of personal news. A person’s lifestream often contains updates about their thoughts, feelings, and activities, often in real-time. Someone who just finished watching a movie, for example, can stream, “I just saw Watchmen and it was intense!” One can also set certain lifestreams to reach only specific people, like friends and family.
How has micro-blogging changed the virtual world?
In this ultra-modern era where most people are constantly on the go, micro-blogging lets us read and share information in small, easily digestible chunks. Micro-blogs are short and to the point. They offer a convenient way of staying up-to-date, especially for those who do not have the time to stop by for a long read.
Today, micro-blogging is adopted not just by individuals sharing purely personal thoughts, but also by business companies, news and information agencies, and even personalities in entertainment and politics.
Twitter: the Most Popular Micro-blogging Service
The most popular micro-blogging service is, of course, Twitter. Twitter was developed in 2006 and became popular the year after, spreading the micro-blogging fever in the Internet world. It has become so well-liked that big media giants like BBC have begun to use it to post short summaries and links to news. Even Qatar’s Al Jazeera network uses Twitter. Famous celebrities – Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore, Martha Stewart, Mariah, Nicole Richie, to name a few – maintain Twitter profiles and keep their many fans worldwide posted on their current activities.
Twitter has a 140-character limit, so posts (called ‘tweets’) will have to be really short and specific. This is because Twitter has a text messaging feature – users can update their profiles by sending tweets using their mobile phones. President Barack Obama has a Twitter profile, which was actively updated during his campaign using the Twitterberry application on a Blackberry. Another way to send tweets is through Twitterfox, a Mozilla Firefox plugin that lets you update without logging in to the Twitter website.
Other popular micro-blogging and lifestreaming services include Jaiku, which features a comment system, and Plurk, a timeline-based lifestreaming site. Social networking websites have also integrated lifestreaming features into user profiles. One prominent example is Facebook’s status updates. After the site’s latest home page redesign, the input box now asks, “What’s on your mind?”
If you have been reading up to this part, you would have probably realized you have been doing all these micro-blogging and lifestreaming all along. You may not have known that they were called that. Trust me, you’re not alone.