Microblogging: A History

In the famous words of Matthew McConaughey: “Sometimes you gotta go back to actually move forward.” Today, lets go back in time to review the history of microblogging to understand its successes, failures and most importantly, where it is going. (History lesson brought to you by Wikipedia.)

Let’s flash back to an entire decade ago. Internet usage was now the norm, and people were communicating on blogs and chatrooms. Users began to notice that posts on these sites were “quick and dirty streams of consciousness,” and that the content was hardly content at all, but quick thoughts. Thus coined the term “Tumblelogs.” In the coming years, microblogging replaced the word tumblelog, but the idea was the same.

The idea quickly spread across the internet, and soon there were over a hundred microblogs to choose from, including Twitter and Tumblr. This ancient post by Aidan Henry compares some of these sites, and even  projects how the sites may evolve. Sadly, not all of the sites in the blog lived to see the golden years of microblogging.

Since then, microblogging sites like Twitter and Tumblr have taken off with great success and copious amounts of users. What made these specific sites so successful compared to the others? In my opinion, they gained success for two big reasons:

1. They are easy to use. When I first got a Twitter sometime around 2009, all I had to do was type my thought out in a text and send it. Today, it is even easier. Twitter and Tumblr are also easy to navigate visually. There aren’t too many buttons or links that confuse the eye.

2.They serve a general purpose. Many microblogging sites that died out had a very specific use. For example IRateMyDay is a site that has only one function: users can rate their day and only add a small caption explaining why. Twitter and Tumblr, however, are a blank slate that allow users to say whatever they feel on any subject.

With the great successes of microblogging sites such as these, what’s next? Will there again be a new platform that changes how we communicate with consumers? (Personally, I hope Xanga makes a comeback.)



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