Why I still <3 blogging > Twitter

by Stephen Tall on October 3, 2012

This post isn’t even meta. It’s meta-meta. Meta2, if you will. It’s about bloggers blogging about blogging. And in case that’s not niche enough for you, it starts off about Lib Dem bloggers blogging about Lib Dem blogging.

On the plus-side that bit will only take 250 words and then I give vent to 3 reasons why I still <3 blogging > Twitter (aka love blogging more than Twitter).

Lord Bonkers’ alter ego Jonathan Calder — “the Lib Dem blogfather” as I once, rightly, termed him — kicked it all off, picking up on my remarks at the recent LibDemVoice Blog of the Year awards. (See, I told you this post would get meta. I wasn’t joking.) Here’s one of the wise things he said:

… the awards are not the event they used to be. Insofar as this means there is not the self-promotion and lobbying there was even two years ago, it is welcome. But it also reflects a decline in the volume and vitality of blogging in the party.

This observation prompted further insightful introspection from (in chronological order):

Blogging is a dying art – it must not end before it’s begun. (Andrew Emmerson)
Look, I’m doing my best….:-) (Richard Morris)
A blog about (Lib Dem) blogging – the debate continues… (Neil Monnery)
The stories of the death of blogging may have been greatly exaggerated (Andrew Emmerson)

To which I can only say: I agree with Andrew. The conclusion of his latter post, that is:

Twitter is fine, and useful for short debates, the same with all social networking, it’s also very temporary, which means that any views posted may last for about 30 minutes maximum before they really disappear into the twitter stream abyss. I think there’s room for both. I encourage both. The same cry applies don’t let traditional blogging die!

(Actually I’m not that sure Twitter is useful even for short debates — no useful debate can ever take place in fewer-than-140-character exchanges — but I’m not going there today.)

But what he does highlight is three points about Twitter that increasingly frustrate me and why I dedicate more time and energy to blogging than I do the ‘micro-blogging site’ (as it once was touted to old-school bloggers like me trying to get our heads around it):

1. The unsearchability of Twitter. Remember that really useful link you tweeted last month and you want to find again? Tough: Twitter swallowed it. Maybe they’ll create a tool that releases it some time. Maybe not. Maybe they’ll let other folk create archive tools for Twitter which last more than a few minutes before Twitter changes its policies and breaks them. But probably not until they’ve worked out a way to monetise tweet-retrieval.

2. Ephemera vs The Long Tail. The most popular post on this blog is nothing to do with politics. It’s this quickie about the Oxford comma, which, thanks to some neat SEO, has been read by almost 15,000 people since September 2011, including 500 in the last month. If I’d tweeted it, maybe 100 people would have seen it in the next couple of days, and no-one after a couple of weeks. If you want what you write to endure, blog it don’t tweet it.

3. I don’t control my own content. I’m always surprised more people aren’t bothered by this. But it bothers me. I type stuff into Twitter. I am legally responsible for it. I own it. Yet I have no way of archiving my own content nor of choosing another way of displaying it. Yes, it’s a free service and I don’t have to use it. But so are the WordPress and Blogger platforms and I can still download my content and port it elsewhere if I choose.

Oh, and one final point. As you may be able to tell, I like words. A lot. And blogging kicks Twitter’s ass if you like words.