The Macro Attractions of Microblogging

Academics, journalists, not to mention bloggers have been consistently drawing attention to the microblogging phenomenon in recent years, even more so in light of the international political tumult earlier this year. Despite disagreements about its exact contributory factor in revolutions, many do agree that it’s a trend that’s here to stay. So how exactly did it become so popular? More specifically, what specific aspects of microblogging attract bloggers to its format and function? We combed the Internet and the blogosphere to find out what others attribute to the growth of what the San Francisco Chronicle calls the “death of blogging.”

Flexibility. In 2007, ReadWriteWeb listed a number of up-and-coming microblogging services that were attracting users. Perhaps the least common denominator among them all was their trans-platform function. Users of Tumblr, MySay, and more could update via browser, mobile phone, or other applications. Most platforms also provided APIs for independent developers to create their own applications.

Speed. Tech Crunch reported in 2009 that, despite predictions that microblogging would take over the blogosphere, Twitter’s growth had begun to plateau while WordPress continued to expand. However, after developing their retweeting feature for blogs and making sharing much faster, the company experienced another jump in number of users.

Political impact. Although technology writers and academics alike continue to argue about the exact amount of impact Twitter and microblogging platforms have on political struggles in countries such as Iran and China, the impact nevertheless exists. In January, popular Chinese microblog hosts Sina and Sohu blocked all searches for “Egypt.” As a country heavily censored by its government, China serves as an example of how microblogging can affect internal politics.

Human evolution. According to New York Times writer Clive Thompson, online social networking—including microblogging platforms—allows people to be “ambiently aware.” Others see it as a natural extension of human evolution on the Internet. Along this vein, social websites are just a natural manifestation of the natural human desire to socialize, allowing people to maintain both intimate contacts and “weak ties” as well.

What do you think keeps microblogging afloat? Leave a comment to let us know.

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