Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Microblogging Is a Mistake (By About Five Orders of Magnitude)

Microblogging, as exemplified by an individual Twitter entry, is 140 characters.

"Micro-" is the SI prefix for "millionth," so it logically follows that a regular blog entry would be a million times bigger, or 140,000,000 characters. (If nothing else, blogging is a completely logical behavior that is characterized by its rigorous adherence to strict scientific standards, is it not?)

At 5 characters per word, that's 28,000,000 words. Or about 280 novels.

Of course, no blogs begin to even approach this word count (some merely feel as if they do). So a renaming is in order.

If Microblogging Is Wrong, I Don't Want to Be Right

By one study, the bulk of blog entries are under 249 words.

Eyeballing my last few entries and using the quick-and-dirty Google Docs word count, my own entries are a little wordier than average (go figure) -- tending towards 500 words per entry, so call it 2,500 characters. Heck, I'm lazy -- call it 2,800 characters (it makes the math easier).

If a standard blog entry is 2,800 characters, 140 character-blogging (so-called "microblogging") is only 5% of that. Which would put the proper name for this kind of blogging in the realm of "deciblogging."

Meaning that the term microblogging is a misnomer by a factor of, oh, 100,000.

Now, since I just push words around, I know that I probably committed math abuse in there somewhere. And I'm okay with that. Since it would still be far less facepalm-worthy than this honey of a math error that I found in a Yahoo! UK & Ireland Answers response to the question, "How many words in a basic adults book?" that I came across as I was writing this:


Vici says, "i wondered this the other day so i counted a page full of words and times it by the number of pages

the answer came to twenty thousand

that means with every 5 books i read i read a million words i think that is amazing myself."
Yes, vici, I'm sure you do.


Daniel Poehlman said...

Ouch. I think I dated Vici.

Anonymous said...

I usually indugle myself on weekends by writing fewer but longer posts (400 words or more). I get the same satisfying number of page views as on weekdays. Go figure.

And if I have different readerships on weekdays and weekends, what's wrong with that?

Joelogon said...

Dan: I should hope not, she sounds like a pre-teen.

Mike: Absolutely nothing. For most people, optimum entry length should be based on: 1. You. 2. Your subject. 3. Your audience. (In that order.)

Anonymous said...

See, and I usually think of microblogging in terms of Tumblr and Identica and tend to separate Twitter as a Status Service and Friendfeed as a lifestream aggregator.

Am I splitting hairs too much?

Joelogon said...

Dave: Possibly. At this point, microblogging is an umbrella term that covers any kind of small, personal-but-publicly-shareable content.

You can make also make distinctions, though past a certain point, having too many genres and subgenres ceases to be useful (e.g. Electronic Music)