An Introduction To Microblogging Information Technology Essay

Fig 3.1

Microblogging is a shorter version of blogging that allows users to write entries up to 140 characters.  The messages can be viewed by anyone, or users can choose to “follow” an individual or a company. While Microblogging is concerned with thoughts from a given source and headlines of present activity, blogging is more related to larger stories, background information and research including Links & Pictures.

The term lifestream or lifecasting is used in continuation of microblogging. 

While Lifestream presents all life activity, such as “changed IM status to: at coffee bar”,  Services like FriendFeed provide this overall life 

aggregation. Lifecasting refers to micromedia broadcast such as video, photos or audio clips 

transmitted online.

Microblogging Services Providers

There are several web services that provides microblogging like:

Twitter

Tumblr

Yammer

There are additional services that provides streaming of posts from your followers, like: Twitterrific which is a desktop application that uses to read and post entries to Twitter. Another application is Friendfeed that enables their users to keep up to date on web pages, photos, videos and music that friends and family are sharing.

User Behaviour

The User behaviour mainly includes posting updates in text possibly combined with links to pictures, videos or websites. The entries they make are usually a combination of their personal thoughts, professional subjects and replies to the users who follow him/her

Companies also have accounts for posting company product’s news, customer’s feedback and follows users that mention company in their microblogs.

As opposed to traditional blogs and newsfeeds, microblogs are far more foreseeable. Microblogging is light information that you can choose to dig into if it has your immediate interest. It´s also a way to get an overview of what is present in your chosen network.

Organizational potential

Organisations have aways been a bit apprehensive in using blogs as they have a fear of loosing information. However microblogging involves lower risk as it reveals less information and is therefore more realistic for organisations to use and hence it is a good way to adapt overall blogging.

Microblogging can be used in several ways, such as:

For posting news related to company.

Giving feedback to customers .

Link to other publicity sources.

Realtime communication covering various events.

Humanize an organization by communicating with individuals.

Dialogue with stakeholders.

Marketing, Recruiting and Stock updates.

Internal knowledge sharing

Many companies have made an attempt to adapt traditional blogs for internal knowledge platform. However sharing important information in blogs conflicts the challenge of many organnisations. On the other hand a lot can be said with 140 characters without revealing hidden information. And it is a universal fact that microblogs don’t reveal information.

It is in the best interest of the company to share knowledge which most of the times results in budget savings. But practically departments are focussed on keeping budgets, resources and assignments that conflict with the desired behaviour of knowledge sharing.

Who all can and should Microblog within an Organization

Whoever is interested in communicating with their stakeholders on daily basis should microblog. Be it sharing information or having a dialogue. It is more easier to adapt as it doesn’t require the same amount of communication that is involved in a blog.

Followers reply to their posts if they attract their attention. However what is important is their activity i.e. frequency and quality. Departments that can be benefitted from Microblogging

Departments with an outward focus such as:

Marketing

Human resource

Sales

Logistics

IT

How to get started

Create a user, company or topic name/account.

Select the media or channel to publish from such as mobile phones, instant messenger or web.

One should put together the team that is going to publish microblogs, educate them in this communication channel, consider topics, goals, ROI, opportunities and how to get a dialog with the followers.

MICROBLOGGING TOOLS

Fig 3.2

Micro-blogging is a term described as “a form of blogging that allows users to write brief text updates (usually less than 200 characters) and publish them, either to be viewed by anyone or by a restricted group which can be chosen by the user”. Several start-ups have witnessed phenomenal growth with micro-blogging services, most notably Twitter. In addition, numerous social networks – including Facebook and Bebo – have integrated similar status update services. The space is hot and it’s still heating up. So let’s take a look at 10 of the key players.

Twitter

Twitter is the key player in space and the company name is used synonymously with micro-blogging. The free service allows users to post status updates via SMS, e-mail, or web browser. What’s more, Twitter has an open platform allowing third party developers to build on top of it. TwitBin is one such third-party application that allows users to post updates to Twitter directly from their browsers. TwitBin is an extension for the Firefox browser, and like most Firefox extensions, it is free to download and use.

Pownce

Pownce recently launched a micro-blogging platform with added functionality. On top of messaging, users can quickly and easily share links, files, or events with any or all of his/her contacts.

Tumblr

Tumblr is a very clean, slick micro-blogging platform. Its focus is on simplicity and elegance. Similar to Pownce, users can share a variety of things, including text, photos, quotes, links, chats, or even videos.

Jaiku

Jaiku is considered by many to be Twitter’s closest competitor. Most features and functions are similar. It will be interesting to see how the company plans to emerge from the shadow of its main rival.

MySay

MySay is what it says. Instead of text updates, users call MySay and say how they are doing today. Then, friends or family can listen via phone, e-mail, or the web.

Hictu

Hictu is a service for video micro bloggers. A webcam and a mouse-click are all that is needed to create a video post. This streamlined solution saves time and effort for traditional vloggers.

Moodmill

Moodmill is a way to express your mood or current state of being. A sliding scale facilitates this process, while a quick text update completes the personalized service.

Frazr

Frazr is also very similar to Twitter. The main difference is one of language. Frazr is focused primarily on the French and German markets.

I Rate My Day

I Rate My Day allows you the ability to (yes, you guessed it) rate your day on a scale of ‘Worst’ to ‘Great’. Users can also provide a short text update to accompany the rating.

Emotionr

Emotionr is a way to gauge your happiness on a scale of 1-10 (decimals included). As the name touts, it is a way to express and share your emotions and feelings with those around you.

Conclusion

Micro-blogging isn’t a short-term trend – it is here to stay. The evolution of blogging has spawned this new mini version of blogging and many are latching on. The simplicity and the ability to post frequently is what attracts the people most to this concept. We expect much faster adoption and mainstream penetration than blogging in general.

MICROBLOGGING SERVICES IN INDIA

Fig 3.3

Microblogging is a new form of blogging that has ramped up quickly and created various offshoots uses of itself apart from a common use of updating/publishing thoughts in form of text (usually less than 200 characters),evenmore, microblogging is said to be used as tool in communication, productivity, e-commerce, brand exposure and in many cases a serious business tool because of its instant information retrieval nature, thus nearly a real time info exchange.

When Twitter was launched first, it was criticized by many bloggers as a useless startup, but Twitter was revolutionary, after launch of Twitter many similar services got launched.

While on global scale brands like Twitter (need no intro) and Jaiku are main players along with Pownce (from Digg), India is also deliberately paving way in Microblogging, though Twitter remain the key player in India too, a lot of Micro blogging platforms were introduced in past few months in India. Below are major microblogging platforms in India;

A web app from Indian mobile technology company Webaroo, ‘Sms gupshup’ is major Indian micro blogging platform. It provide users to send/free free text SMS to any mobile device. Unlike to Twitter, it provides its users to create and join groups to send and recieve SMSs to and from users in these groups respectively.

Sending and receiving SMS via mobile and online site usage seems to have 1:5 ratio thus the site doesn’t appeal much sleek in User Interface.

Vakow-It is the next major micro blogging and SMS based site in India after SMSGupShup, in terms of usage and site traffic. Vakow too provide SMS message from web to mobile devices plus other features such as tagging, to tag the messages and group them based on these tags to send Pictures from web to mobile devices although a light weight, low resolution black & white pictures only.

Moroever, Vakow has worked out a way, through Twitter API, so that one can send updates from their mobile devices to twitter via Vakow, reason being Vakow cost less twitter, when it comes to sending message from any mobile devices in India to twitter servers.

Shockles is one another such service, its a mobile message board, in short functionality are similar to that of Twitter along with features it carry. The application however is different in product marketing in way that it provide Enterprise shockles which is a product in the social software for business category and as per the website amongst the world’s first on-demand and mobile enterprise solution for business social networking and collaboration.

Kwippy is one of the most famous nanoblogging service including twitter in india, reason being – you can post message from Gmail or GTalk directly to kwippy or integrate Gtalk and Yahoo messenger status, share links. Kwippy is thus a micro/nanoblogging webapp + IM status logger + social network.

(A) In kwippy, the whole focus is on the Instant Messenger, right now Gmail address book(Gtalk) and Yahoo only. The friends list on the instant messenger is the most intimate friends list you can find, of all social networks – as per Kwippy blog. The microblog app presently is in private beta, but one would get invite soon in a day or two. Rest is much similar to Twitter such as lingo like ‘followers’,’following’ and tweets being Kwips here

Scope of microblogging in India

Microblogging is no longer unfamiliar to India’s young netizens . Twitter undoubtedly remains the most popular microblogging service, and there’s more to come! So why are so many young Indians interested in micro blogging? The answers it’s easy ant its simple. But dig a little deeper and the following reasons – the 5 Cs – seem to be why microblogging appeals so much to the Indian youth.

Communication: Microblogging allows you to communicate with thousands of people scattered all over the globe. The youth loves to stay connected and microblogging is just another way for them to stay in touch (apart from texting, emails, IMs, and social networking sites). Ever since the Bollywood brigade has taken to Tweeting, the allure of microblogging has only increased.

Connectivity: Connectivity without restrictions of time and space is a great deal that technology has offered the bloggers. You can also use cell phone to connect to the microbloggers tweeting out there, Hence it is practically a mobile and internet combo pack! So there you are – blogging from any corner of the world – that too even without a computer, sharing the experiences ‘there and then’ and staying connected to the blogging universe all the time.

Content creation: Seeing your own content being read by wide audience is a great feeling which does prompt many bloggers to enter the blogosphere. Though the content many a times remains very basic and does not really have much of a literary value, one has to accept the fact that new media such as Twitter allows people to create their own content and share it proudly with the world.

Crisp: The lengthy sagas on regular blogs have no place in microblogging universe. Microblogs are supposed to be less than 200 characters, that is why they are ‘micro’. Twitter allows maximum of 140 characters, and this restriction does make the post short and crisp. Any microblogger tries to make the post maximum interesting in minimum amount of words, just what the readers expect it to be. Just like their other choices, the youth likes it short, crisp and to the point. (Even though sometimes the post itself has no point altogether!)

Cult: microblogging has become a ‘cult’. Just like Yahoo chat and Orkut were. There might be many of your peers who type away every little thing they do; and have 500 followers. And then there is our media who treats this new medium with equal enthusiasm. So you glance through newspapers, or just watch an entertainment channel and know that Shah Rukh Khan has got tons of followers within few days, and what did Priyanka Chopra write to her ‘tweeple’ even if you do not know what exactly Twitter is. Of course, the movie stars or politicians many a times do it for their own promotion, but that just adds an ‘it’ factor to microblogs. It makes the youth go after it more. That has suddenly become the ‘aspirational’ and the ‘thing to do you see’.

Microblogging is redefining what a conversation is all about, blurring the line between SMSing and blogging, and between the private and public. Blogging on the phone has no extra baggage that blogging on a computer carries: you don’t have to be grammatically correct and your blog post could be just any stray thought.

In Mumbai, Twitter inspired a ‘tweetup’, when Gaurav Mishra, a marketing professional and an “early adopter of technology”, wrote out a post saying “Blog meets are so passé. I want a Mumbai Twitter meet.”

Webaroo Inc, which launched the free microblogging service SMSGupShup in India last April, claims to be growing at nearly 4 per cent every day – purely through word-of-mouth publicity. they expect users in excess of 20 million before the end this year.

Costs are recovered by placing contextual ads at the end of the SMS. MyToday MOBS, a microblogging service from Netcore Solutions that took off last July, sees nearly 25,000 people ‘publishing’ on a daily basis – again, with zero advertising and marketing costs.India has the world’s third-largest mobile base. If you create services leveraging the mobile as a platform . It’s not even just text anymore – phone companies are ringing in an era in which pictures, video and audio can be blogged instantaneously.

Nokia Nseries introduced its ‘M-Blog’ last year. “When blogging began in the ’90s, the only way to blog was to get to a computer and upload images, text and video. But not any more.

Reliance has seen a four-fold increase in its m-blog usage since it started advertising the features.

In Japan, five out of ten of last year’s best-selling novels were originally written out on cellphones . Microblogging is helping people release a lot of creative energy free of cost. They could be inspired to compile the microblogs as books eventually and this trend is quickly catching up in india..

Microblogging is definitely here to stay. Blog-camps and virtual get-togethers are already happening with bloggers all across the globe. Microblogging could surely reach lot more number of people. It will evolve more with the convergence of technology, and become a regular part of our lives, both real and virtual.

Issues with MicroBlogging

Threat

 Web surfing is no longer a solo affair. Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks have quickly become an integral part of the online culture, and with them come a whole new array of potential security threats. In this article, we’ll identify some of the key dangers of social networking/microblogging

Concerns about Micro blogging

The main concerns with micro blogging, as with other forms of social media, are privacy, security and integration. In the race to take the first mover advantage(in case of businesses) or just to be among the first to use of these new technologies many users do not consider the potential risks or the shortcomings of these upcoming technology. Nearly all the micro blogging sites gather information about users and some of them consider the personal information provided on account profiles to be their property. These services are reserved with the right to use personal information and to transfer it to third parties. Which are generally mentioned in terms and conditions. (Did you check the Terms of Agreement before you signed on?).Following are the three main key issues:-

Privacy – concerns of broadcasting social or work information to everyone who follows your feed

Security – concerns of the public seeing possible sensitive work information

Integration – how to adapt micro blogging into the corporate culture.

Privacy is a major issue, because the users sometimes broadcast sensitive personal information, which can be viewed by anyone who views their public feed. Micro blog platform providers can also cause privacy issues, through changing or presetting users’ privacy options. An example would be Google’s Buzz platform, which incited controversy in 2010 by automatically publicizing users’ email contacts as ‘followers’. Google later amended these settings.

Security concerns have been voiced within the business world, since there is potential risk of sensitive work information to be published on micro blogging sites such as Twitter. 

Integration could be the hardest issue to overcome, since it can be argued that corporate culture must change to accommodate micro blogging. It helps to share information with potential clients in the most concise manner. They feel that employees might be distracted which might affect their productivity at work. One more issue is that business is not able to decide upon which website which they should use depending on the popularity in different areas

A major issue for an organisation is the concern that employees might broadcast sensitive work information. Micro blog posts (unless sent as private direct messages) are searchable by other users and websites. An organisation will never want the public seeing possible sensitive work information on the public micro blogging sites. Just because people are using new means of communication does not mean that an organisation has any obligation or should really sanction or implement these upcoming technologies. However, micro blogging has become a popular and useful communication tool, which can be used to benefit some organisations. If an organisation allows the use of various public micro blogging service by employees, then there is a need to implement a policy with clear guidelines on appropriate usage. If, on the other hand, an organisation decides to integrate micro blogging into the corporate culture, they should investigate enterprise solutions and find one that will be easy to integrate with their existing platforms.

Define ‘privacy’

Marrying privacy and social networking/micro blogging may seem unreal to some. How can you be social and open and yet protect your privacy? Well, just because you are choosing to share some of your personal/private information with a selected group of people does not necessarily mean that you want to share all of your information, or that you want this information to be visible to all.

Facebook in particular has suffered from a number of issues related to privacy concerns. If you have used Facebook for a while, you may have noticed ads with your friends’ names or photos associated with them.

Facebook does provide privacy controls for you to customize what types of information should be available to third-party applications. If you look at the Facebook Ads tab of the privacy controls, though, you’ll notice that it offers no way for you to opt out of the internal Facebook Ads. It merely states that “Facebook strives to create relevant and interesting advertisements to you and your friends.”

Enterprise Microblogging Security

Security: This will probably be of paramount concern at least initially in most businesses. All businesses want to make sure that they keep internal communications safe from intrusive outside eyes. An enterprise microblogging solution must provide for fine-grained authorization and trustworthy security of communications. Management, through the IT department will try and want to restrict who can see certain posts and who cannot.

Remember who your friends are

When you write a Twitter tweet or post a Facebook status update, you have to keep people who will be able to see your post in mind. More and more these days, we hear stories of people who have forgotten that their boss is part of their network and have said things online that have gotten them reprimanded, even fired.

The consequences of inappropriate online comments have become so common that they have earned an entry in the Urban Dictionary: “Facebook fired”. Saying something as obvious and seemingly innocent as “I’m tired”or things such as”Any better paying job?I’m available” in a status update during work hours can have dire consequences if the wrong people see it.Or even posting some jokes about other community or religion can have some serious consequences.

MICROBLOG VS EMAIL

Google CEO Eric Schmidt had this to say about the microblogging service Twitter:

Speaking as a computer scientist, I view all of these as sort of poor man’s email systems. In other words, they have aspects of an email system, but they don’t have a full offering. The question about companies like Twitter is: Do they fundamentally evolve as sort of a note phenomenon, or do they fundamentally evolve to have revocation, identity, storage and all the other aspects that traditional email systems have? Or do mail systems broaden what they do to take on some of that characteristic themselves?

At first sight, it seemed like an example of Google not ‘getting it’ when it comes to Twitter. But actually it is a new way of not only posting notes about what one’s doing, but it also has a lot of communications usage via @replies and direct messages (DMs).

Reflecting on Schmidt’s statement, it can be inferred that microblogging is slowly replacing a lot of email activity.

As more companies are taking up microblogging with services like Yammer, Socialcast, Present.ly and SocialText Signals, employee communications amongst employees is both increasing and getting diverted away from email. Something like this:

Fig 3.4

Socialcasts Tim Young had this to say about email:

Email is dead. If your company is relying on email for communication and collaboration, your company is walking dead in this new economy.

Being the CEO of Socialcast, it is not a very surprising statement.

The shift described applies regardless of the microblogging application used.

Features present in Social Networking sites

Microblogging does not replace email. But these guys are advancing their product, and are rising up the performance axis.

Here is what Yammer or any other social networking site now offers:

Behind the firewall installation

Public notes

@replies

DMs

Groups

Private groups

File attachments

Favorites (a form of bookmarking)

Tagging

Conversation threading

Unlimited character length (i.e. not limited to 140 characters)

Search

Look at that list. When you think about your own internal email usage, what’s missing? Folders or the Gmail equivalent of tags seem to be something for the down the road. Thus, Microblogging still has the insurgent, disruptor profile relative to corporate email.

But don’t underestimate that. There’s what IT knows is needed behind the scenes. and then there’s what the users actually do when given the different applications.

Expanding Communications, Marginalizing Email

Microblogging’s premise is that public proclamations of what you’re doing and information that you find are a new activity for people, and they have value. Information is shared much more easily and in-the-flow of what we’re all doing anyway.

This use case is what promises to dramatically increase communications among employees. As we’re seeing with Twitter’s explosive growth, it takes time for people to know why they should microblog. But once they “get it”, it takes off.

So services like Yammer/Twitter etc. have your attention as you post updates and read what others post. In reaction to someone posts, you hit the Reply button. You’re having a conversation that others can see, and join as well if they want. You can decide to have separate conversation with someone in that context.

Which starts the marginalization of corporate email. Why? Because a lot of what’s going to generate interactions is occurring right on that microblogging app you’re looking at. It’s the most natural thing to act in-the-flow and use that application in lieu of email. Well-designed microblogging applications are also quite seductive in terms of ease-of-use.

The logical end use cases of emails are:

Notifications

External communications

This isn’t something that’s imminent. Email is quite entrenched in daily workflow, older generations aren’t likely to stop using it and internal microblogging is still nascent.

COMMUNOTE AT COMMUNARDO – ENTERPRISE MICROBLOGGING CASE STUDY

Company information and case study background

Communardo Software GmbH in Dresden, Germany offers software solutions and consultancy in the context of knowledge management and team collaboration. The company has been growing in robust during recent years .It has got an employee strength of 160+. For the most part the employees work in negeriads.com knowledge-intensive project contexts with one to one communication network. The internal IT environment contains group-supporting applications like an intranet wiki, blogs and project spaces.

As Communardo itself is a consultancy firm in the area of Web 2.0 its employees are affiliated with the early adopters of new web services. Some of the employees tried Twitter and realised its potential to improve their collaboration at work and the quality of their input in the office. In 2008 they suggested using Twitter or a Twitter-like tool for the company’s project teams. Until then broad email conversations or the usage of the wiki’s discussion pages were common and lead to a large number of unmanageable masses of information. The anticipation of the benefits of microblog- ging was that it would reconnect different parts of the company which were separated during its growth and that it would be the best tool for representing the flow of information in the project teams.

The initial decision of the top level management was against using a public microblogging service like Twitter for internal use. The reasons for this were the perceived functional deficits (e.g. no rights management, few possibilities for search and filtering) and strategic reasons (data protection, security of investment and reliability). Since there were no solutions for enterprise microblogging available, the only fast and easy way to set up a microblogging-type communication system was the use of the blogging software WordPress enhanced with a special theme called Prologue. This setting was tested in a project team. The approach in general was found very useful in Indonesia Furniture Handicraft Wholesale Marketplace, and hence it was adopted company-wide. However, the modified WordPress could not meet functional expectations.

Conceptualisation and Implementation

Communardo formulated the following requisites for its internal microblogging tool:

Topic-centred content structuring and rights management should be available.

Various integration scenarios(LDAP, RSS, portlets, mobile client, XMPP, corporate identity) should be supported.

Information management should be possible through tagging and filtering.

Security features (like encryption, user management and robust software design) should be included.

The first requirement showed a remarkable difference from the example of Twitter. It was argued that the so-called noise postings should be minimised. Noise postings are not relevant for the user but because of their quantity hide important ones. A topic-centred structuring was also seen as the condition for effective rights management. The assumption behind this was that each person acts in different roles, such as project manager. So it should be conceivable that project-relevant postings by each person would be accessible only to co- workers involved and are part of the same project. The possibility of establishing rights settings for every single posting, however, was rejected in favour of simplicity. Thus, the solution was the conceptualisation of multiple microblogs where single users could be added and then those users could follow that microblog.

The approach was implemented in a non-functional user interface prototype. In this early stage of the project special usability consultants were asked to test the prototype including different versions of tagging. The aim of these tests was to find out if the handling would be intuitive. The findings were used to rework the first concept.

After the conceptualisation phase Communardo’s top management decided to move on and started the implementation phase. The technological planning took place parallel to the screen design. The project team kept the iterative proceeding and published the resulting tool as quickly as was possible. This is what we are going to describe in the next paragraphs.

The resulting software artefact

The resulting software is a browser-based microblogging system which uses Web 2.0- typical technology (i.e. Ajax). Communardo chose the name “Communote”- a combination of the company’s name and the word “note”.

At first look Communote looks similar to Twitter. In fact the key elements are the same: like the posting stream is the major part of the system and a panel with filtering and navigation options is situated on the right. A major difference is the drop-down list on the top. This UI element is used to choose the microblog in which to post. The first page shows a combined view of all postings from one user’s microblogs. To post a message the user has to either choose a single microblog using the drop-down list or reply to an existing message.

The panel on the right contains a dynamic tag mass and additional filtering possibilities. Filters are available for tags, free search, authors, microblogs and time periods. They could also be