From Everything Shii Knows, the only reliable source

This website is an archive. It ran from 2006-2010. Virtually everything on here is outdated or inaccurate.

Dear reader, I am embarrassed. For over year I dismissed microblogging as an utter waste of time. Finally, sometime last month, I stumbled upon an article that explained to me the social purpose of microblogging.

Who on earth cares? What kind of communication is this? Can it be that we are using the internet to issue trivial facts about ourselves? Facts? The "fact" that I am entertaining the cat is so staggeringly unimportant it fails to interest even the cat.
But there is another, anthropological, point of view. Exhaust data is, I think, a clear case of "phatic communication." This is communication with little hard, informational content, but lots of emotional and social content. Phatic communications doesn't get much said, but it has social effects so powerful, it gets lots done.

Of course! You don't microblog because of some deep-seated insecurity and desire for people to respond to you (unless if you're Scoble). You microblog to remind people that you're alive-- it's the Internet equivalent of saying "hi" to a friend on the street and making 10 seconds of small talk. If you were actually trying to get a point across, the 140 character limit would be a gross insult to your speaking abilities. But if you just want to light up a corner of someone's screen for a second, 140 characters is a good maximum. You say "oh hey, it's my buddy!", respond if it's pertinent to something you know, but otherwise move on.

I'm not sure why I don't naturally recognize phatic communication. It took me a while in high school to even talk to people normally. But now I hope I have conveyed to any confused readers why microblogging is not a waste of time. Granted, it may not be newsworthy very often. But conversations rarely are.


Get microblogging on GNU

I've tried a few microblogging clients. They are listed here with my reviews.

Shell clients

I'm mainly concerned with having the darn thing ping me when someone updates, so I don't have to compulsively check it all the time. That rules out, sadly, my friend Cameron Kaiser's client TTYtter, as well as Vim Twitter and twitter.el.

On the active side, BLT (shell Twitter) is an interesting idea but I don't keep a shell open all the time.

Browser clients

There is a Twitter widget for Opera, and two Firefox Twitter clients: TwitterFox and TwitBin. I did not test these out because the idea of running a tiny client inside the larger client strikes me as a little silly. You can just go to Twitter's website, after all. I might come back to them someday.

KDE clients

I did not test out Ktwitter and KickTweet because that would involve installing all the KDE libraries.

GNOME clients

Twitter has nothing if not an overload of GNU clients, because everyone is itching to make one and none of them do it very well. There's even something called phpitter which is written in a mapping of PHP onto GTK. I'm not kidding!! I won't bother linking that one.

AIR clients

There are several clients based on Adobe's non-free AIR platform, I'm assuming mostly because it looks pretty.

XMPP clients

I'm trying to keep my microblogging free as in freedom (similar to hosting a website on your own domain as opposed to using Blogger) using identi.ca. As you can see above, there are only two native options for this on GNU/Linux. However, identi.ca has a neat feature where it will send tweets directly to your Jabber IM client. This does mean you'll have to go to the website to add friends and stuff like that, but it's quite convenient.

There are twenty-one GNU-compatible Jabber clients. I tried most of them back in 2006, so they may be more mature now, but I found Gmail's native Jabber support quite easy to use. For a client with full knowledge of Jabber's XMPP protocol, try Tkabber. If you use Bitlbee, you can further route your identi.ca updates into IRC!

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