A Step Toward the Future of Microblogging


A little more than a year ago the folks at WordPress unleashed Prologue on us — that being a theme specifically meant for quick status updates amongst a group. Then this year came P2, an enhancement on Prologue that made real time updates a reality. Now, with the advancements happening with im.WordPress.com, we could be seeing the early makings of a true microblogging service built on WordPress, better than the likes of Twitter. I’ll tell you why I think so.

It’s not about the wrapper

Great blogging services are a lot like candy. The wrapper is useful for marketing purposes, but the true quality is in the actual candy. The chocolate. The nougat. The wrapper, honestly, just gets in the way.

With microblogging, we are the nougat. Technically, our content. It doesn’t ultimately matter what wrapper the content comes through in (like Twitter), the important part is that I get what I’m looking for, in a way that works for me. Right now what I’m looking for are the daily thoughts of these people.

A few people I'm following

For now the way I get to these people is Twitter. I could just as easily use FriendFeed, or a number of other services. I could even host my own microblogging circle. These options have their own limitations, but you get my point. What’s important isn’t the service, it’s the people.

Enter im.WordPress.com

Today is the first I’ve heard of a new project happening at WordPress.com called im.WordPress.com. I was alerted to it by Andy Skelton (@skeltoac earlier today on Twitter. He gave a presentation demoing the new service at Crunchup.

Screenshot of im.WordPress.com

According to the site, they “…have been experimenting with instant delivery of blog posts and comments. Now you can subscribe to WordPress.com blogs in your Jabber IM client and receive posts and comments the instant they are published.”

By befriending the bot [email protected] you are able to receive updates from blogs you subscribe to, as well as post to your own. For the moment this is limited to blogs hosted on WordPress.com, but as we’ve seen with Akismet and WordPress.com Stats, there’s hope that this will in the future be linked to our hosted blogs.

What this could mean for us is microblogging where the wrapper is truly insignificant. Self hosted microblogging accessible via Jabber clients like Adium. Real time updates of posts and replies. Like what Twitter does now, but happening places we own.

The real bummer about using Twitter is knowing that so much interaction is happening out there, but with little hope of salvaging it for my own, to keep. When I blog on my WordPress blogs, upload photos to display, and create links to share, I know that my stuff isn’t going anywhere. It’s not going to just disappear without my say, and if I want to I can pick it all up and take it with me. Right now with Twitter, that isn’t the case.

I know I can save my own Tweets. But that’s not as interesting to me as the replies, the conversations, the hashtag following, and even the retweeting that I’m a part of. I want to see my microblogging activity turn into posts, comments, and trackbacks that I can have for myself. Am I alone in that?

3 thoughts on “A Step Toward the Future of Microblogging

  1. Ooo, hey there I am…

    The interesting part is, with WPMU, this is sort of kind of already do-able. Globally, anyway.

    nobody’s put the effort in (that I know of) to do a decent friending type of list and being able to sub to it. which, in essence, is kind of what they have going on at im.wordpress.com.

    Definitely do-able in MU tho.

    • Right, and that would work within a defined group. But would it reach outside of the reach of WPMU? My understanding is that you would be limited to who you would be able to have register and use WPMU to microblog. Adding im.WordPress.com into it would at least open it up a little, into a desktop client like Jabber.

      • I think it’s kind of two-fold. For instance, just subscribing to a sitewide feed of everything on one WPMU install has been available via plugins for a while.

        Being able to pick & choose, yeah, you’d probably have to sign up.

        Great food for thought though.

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