Are you using Twitter? Or maybe you explore the depths of the Fediverse, for instance through Mastodon. Or maybe you use both. These services tend to be called microblogging platforms. And maybe you also have your own blog. And if not, at the very least, you are reading this, published on my blog. So what are the differences between a blog and a microblog, anyway?
1. Place of publication
The blog is generally published on the web, under some domain or maybe a
blog. subdomain. Yeah, this is just a basic post, but maybe you'll stick
with me till the end. Microblog on the other hand is published in the
stream. What the hell is a stream?
Well maybe stream is just a made up term. It surely isn't defined in scientific literature about the topic, if there even is any such literature in the first place. But I image a stream in this context to be pieces coming in a succession, and that is exactly what publishing content on the microblog is. Even flowing water are molecules (pieces) moving in a succession.
2. The length
Length of the published content does not need to much explanation, but it is a very relevant factor. While blogs are usually long posts, microblog posts are on the other hand rather short. Twitter itself had an artificially set 140 character limit on a tweet for quite a while, until it got upgraded to 280 characters.
Fediverse has a little bit different take on the issue. Mastodon has by default 500 character limit on a toot (a toot is an equivalent of a tweet but in the Fediverse). 500 characters is well enough for a short posts, but some users did not like it's hard-coded nature and so, for instance in Pleroma this limit is configurable by the instance administrator on the fly. Some users have it set to very high numbers, like 8000 - basically imposing almost no limit on the length of the post, which blurs the line a little.
3. Amount of effort required
With the length of the content increasing, surely the required effort increases as well. Unless the author is stealing it or is it machine produced somehow. With that being said, a full blog post, apart from actually writing it also tend to require sources, photos, screenshots, charts and many times, also a lot of research.
This is absolutely contrary to the microblog post, which many times focus on just one piece of information like a link or a GIF. This characteristic is imposed by the character limit. But the effort tends to be rather minimal, and thus authors can afford to toot or tweet many times a day.
4. Direction of the communication
Generally, this category is very tight in a sense that both blog and microblog posts are truly just one-way only. Author writes, the audience reads. But the surrounding environment is different. With microblog post, any user on the platform can interact with the post with the same format and the exact same tool. There is basically no hierarchy. Sure, the is the original post and then there are replies, but there is no hierarchy among users. Everyone is on the level ground. This in my opinion strengthen the sense of connection, one of the needs of the individual.
Blog posts are different in this respect, because the best one can do is usually to insert the comment section below the blog post. While this indeed solves a lot of problems, it also creates a bunch of them in the same time. The comments do not propagate trough the network very well, as they are endemic to just one URL. Comments can be affected by bots of not handled right. Then there is a problem of identity. Users either need to register on every single site or if some other company is handling comments for you, then there is a potential for a privacy issues. And do not even get me started on the issue of comments on statically generated sites, which are getting more and more popular as a JAMstack. This topic could probably fill it's own blog.
The last point is this post is a topic of the content. Blogs tend to have a chosen topic. And yes, even personal journal kind of blog has a topic. The topic is being the life of an author. There is a sense of continuity. Of course, as everywhere, there are exceptions here and there, but in general, well curated blogs tend to stick to the topic, otherwise readers can get discouraged.
While microblog posts can have a topic and in an overall picture they very much do. In the end, the human brain is really terrible at generating randomness. This is why you should always use a password manager like KeePassXC to generate the passwords or passphrases for you. You can even have the passwords synchronized with the phone.
But in the short time scales, the microblog posts may even appear to be very diverse, even random. A link there, a photo there, an anecdote from the author's life in between.
The post explains 5 differences between a blog post proper and the microblog post - a tweet or a toot for instance. Here is a chart that summarizes all the differences briefly:
|published on the web||published in stream|
|medium to long form||short form|
|a lot of effort||minimal effort|
We can see that the blog posts tend to be topic oriented, longer, higher effort pieces published directly on the web, for the readers to consume. Microblog posts on the other hand tend to be short, lower effort, diverse pieces published inside a platform that prompts interactivity. So that's it.
I recommend you to get over to the Fediverse and leave me some toot there, it is where I currently spend some of my free time.