Microblogging is a networking service that allows mobile users of cell phones and other Internet connected devices to stay abreast of activities within a group by receiving frequent published updates, typically of 140 characters or less. Text messages are uploaded to a microblogging service such as Twitter, Jaiku and others, then distributed to group members. All parties subscribed in the targeted group are instantly notified of the microblog, enabling groups to keep tabs on one another’s activities in real time. A Microblog can also be public, with arbitrary subscribers joining and dropping microblogs at will.
Like any other Internet tool, microblogging can be utilized for a number of purposes. While many are social, more pragmatic uses including business applications, also apply.
Teens can use microblogging as a social service to see what their friends are up to, scout out parties, or to simply stay linked for the fun of it while engaging in every day activities like school, shopping and studies. Student officers might also create microblogs for class committees to keep abreast of progress on project assignments.
It’s not only students who can benefit from this modernized, improved version of the telephone tree. Faculty might also find uses for microblogging. For example, when preparing for performances, band and drama teachers could use microblogs to network participating students for improved organizational efficiency. The quick nature of microblogs makes it a good management tool when the success of a project relies on many different people pulling together in a timely fashion.
Businesses can also use this tool for gathering and disseminating bullet-type information to the right parties, such as from a sales conference or client meeting. Court reporters can use microblogging to relay updates to producers and anchors in one fell swoop, and politicians can keep in touch with staff. Tour staff such as roadies, sound engineers and drivers could all benefit from being connected via a microblog that would keep everyone with the tour abreast of problems as they arise and resources at hand. By using a microblog one hand always knows what the other is doing.
Another use of microblogging involves boosting site traffic. A popular website blogger might announce updates or teasers to his or her blog through a microblog. An embedded link can take readers directly to the site.
While many question the need for yet another way to stay connected, over 100 microblog services reportedly exist as of Spring 2008, with the trend headed upward. Before subscribing to the microblog world, be sure your cell phone plan will not put you in the poor house for extended text messaging. Some plans offer monthly flat rates for unlimited texting, while others charge up to $0.15 US Dollars per message sent or received. In many cases a monthly cell phone plan comes with a limited number of “free” texting, with extra messages driving up the bill.