I’m intrigued by Manton Reece’s definition of a microblog.
I think he’s onto some solid ideas.
- Must have an RSS feed.
- Does not have an RSS item title.
- Contains short post text, 280 characters or less.
An RSS feed certainly feels definitional, but I’d argue that titles are fine, and that 280 characters is a great guideline to try and stay under, or to use in an app for truncating preview text, but there isn’t any good reason to make a rule out of it.
This post will probably be longer than that. But I’m writing it BBEdit in Markdown. Why should I check how many displayed characters I’m using after all the filtering is done? Has this post gotten so long that I need to move it over to my blog blog? Who wants to be thinking about that all the time?
If there is going to be a little movement of people writing, reading, and producing software for microblogging, I’d suggest adoption of Postel’s Law:
an implementation should be conservative in its sending behavior, and liberal in its receiving behavior.
We’re going to get all kinds of feeds, why rule any out? Besides, I don’t think we want to re-implement an ecosystem that relies on things like “twitlonger” so people can say their bit.
If microblogging has a problem, I think it’s in the feed reading software out there and not the specification, my own humble attempt included. It would be great if feed reading software simply handled an item without a title more gracefully. I checked what I have available: Feedbin, Reeder, Unread, Mr. Reader, and NetNewsWire for Mac – and none of those apps handle an untitled item particularly well. Not enough to justify creating a folder of feeds called microblogs with the rush of RSS feeds that are about to be created.
Better handling of untitled items is the place to start. Any other features at this point would be gravy.
P.S. Yes, I added a title to this post to be a jerk b/c