Kidding aside, the web transforms at a rapid pace. Daily even. Ten years ago, when everyone was tying up their phone line and using Netscape Navigator, could we really have seen how we would be sharing information the way we do today? Things have even changed greatly since the idea of blogging started to gain momentum.
Today there seems to be no end of ways to publish your thoughts or stream your life. Microblogging is the flavor of the day and no one knows where this is going to stop. And while Twitter has claimed the top spot amongst the tech savvy crowd — and is still booming in popularity and gaining ground with the mainstream — what are the other good options out there?
Spend a little time searching and it’s easy to be overwhelmed. Not to fear. We’ve done the work for you and have come up with a nice list of tools, what we think are the best of the rest.
That is to say, reader be warned: Facebook is not included in this post. The overall purpose of the application is not microblogging per se. Even though the status portion of Facebook is similar to Twitter and many of these other tools, it was intended to bring you in touch with friends, old and new. But it is clearly not a blogging tool.
The Cream of the Crop
I have to admit, I have a bias here. I use Tumblr to run my personal blog.
But there are good reasons for doing so. It’s ease of use, theme-ability, and the community aspects are just the start. With Tumblr you can post 7 different types of content — and do it quickly. It’s very easy to create a theme, even with fairly rudimentary design skills (take my site for example) and there are plenty of great free themes available. Add to these reasons the community aspects — likes and reblogs — and Tumblr is simply fun to use.
Other features: twitter integration, user submissions, post tagging and many others.
Another top option, mainly due to the same reasons — ease of use and the different types of content allowed. The key difference here is that you create your posts via email. Attach different types of media to your email and that gets posted as well. You can create one off posts, all with different URL’s or you can set up your own domain and have all your posts aggregated under a common URL (example chrisbowler.posterous.com).
Other features: a bookmarklet, custom domains, integrated Google Analytics and automatic posting to other sites and services such as Twitter and Facebook.
In a similar vein, soup.io is another free service that has a lot of similarity to the first two options. It’s very easy to post your content and allows various forms of media. It also adds an interesting option for grouping your friends. If aesthetics are important to you, soup.io is an option that will appeal to you.
Other features: customization, groups, aggregation of other sites and services.
The team behind this app must have been doing something right as FriendFeed was recently purchased by Facebook. More of an aggregator, this site is built around the idea of connecting with your friends and pulling in your various streams from other web applications. These include popular services like Twitter, Flickr, Delicious, Facebook, YouTube and many more (58 in total).
You can also have all your blog posts included in your FriendFeed stream.
Other features: image uploads, themes and groups.
This is an interesting service. Your updates are displayed in a horizontal scrollable timeline. All the updates from the people you follow also are displayed in this timeline. Hover over a particular entry (a “Plurk”) and you can view the entirety of its contents. It’s a unique way to view the stream of thoughts from your friends and acquaintances.
Other features: user “Karma”, embedded images or video, comments, and good privacy options.
Too Many to Count
This is by no means an exhaustive list of the services available. These are simply the top five I think stand out in the crowd and have caught my attention over the past two or three years. If you have some other favorites, let me know on the comments or via Twitter.