From those who've embraced microblogging (by which I mean the use of Twitter, Utterli, Facebook status, or similar tools for generating brief updates), I've been hearing about a frustration with this communication model: if you post an update and nobody from your network happens to see it at that moment, you could be out of luck. Sometimes there's a piece of information that you'd like to have "stick" for longer than a few minutes, so that everyone you know can catch it no matter what time they're logged in and what's streaming by on their home page. Some examples of this are:
- announcing the release of a new CD, book, etc.
- expecting a baby
- doing a fundraiser in two weeks
- ill or undergoing surgery
- traveling for an extended time
This is information that's not permanent enough to go into your profile, but is important enough that you'd like to keep it from being lost in the noise of all the other micro-updates. Somewhere between our relatively permanent information (our profile details) and our transient broadcasts, we could really use a way to make certain information stick around for short but defined periods.
Some people get around this by publishing the same post over and over, which can be annoying to their audience. A better way is to vary the information slightly with every broadcast – providing a countdown to the event or different statistics each time. This is a lot of work, however, which is making me see the need for a the kind of update that can sit in the middle space between transient and permanent – the mezzopermanent: a way to post information that needs to hang around for a week or two, while still allowing our other micro-updates to continue. Ideally it would be associated with an optional expiration date (like Announcements in SharePoint) so that you could set it and forget it.
I'm not sure how the existing tools would accommodate this additional dimension; it would need to be a combination of a dedicated space on our profile pages, plus a representation on the streaming side (each micro-update contains a sidebar reference to the mezzopermanent update?).
This might even be a way to monetize these technologies – with a paid subscription, you get this functionality as well as other advanced features.
Thanks to Mike G. for helping brainstorm this term and concept!