Sunday, November 16, 2008

Blogging For Ben's Mom And Other Non-Techies

My Mom doesn't blog - yet. But, if she ever does, I'm going to guess that she would choose to make Twitter her first blogging platform of choice.

First, I have to mention that my Mom isn't technophobic. She was sending e-mail back in the day when it meant telneting into multiple VAX systems. Trust me, she's a trooper. But, in a lot of ways, she's not a huge fan of PCs. She just doesn't spend a lot of time around them, and she isn't comfortable with firing up the computer and surfing and e-mailing away. She can take comfort in knowing that she's hardly alone in this respect.

What she has figured, to her credit, is text messaging. Text messaging is kind of like E-mail, but better. First, she doesn't need to get on the computer, she can do it from anywhere. Second, it's dead simple - tap out your message, and you're done. Third, the messages get read and responded to faster. Sure, she can't write a novel (and she uses e-mail for that at times), but there's many messages that don't require this.

And that's why I think, when she, and people like her, finally have a need to publish to a group information, they'll want to consider Twitter as an entry point. Twitter, like text messaging, is drop dead simple. The entire UI consists of typing your message and hitting submit. Sure, there are limitations on how much you can write - but when used for the right kind of information, it's very powerful. Also, Twitter can be accessed over SMS, so you don't need to log in to publish. Finally, Twitter makes it easy to have an audience follow you.

Why A Micro Blog?

OK, Twitter is easy to use. But, like text messaging, it seems so constrained as to be only useful for kids with too much time on their hands. A Twitter blog is known as micro blogging, because of the limitations in content you can publish. While micro blogging can be used to publish what you ate for lunch, you're hardly limited to such minutia. Just like text messaging, there are all sorts of reasons someone like my Mom might want to start a micro blog on twitter. Here are some that come immediately to mind:

  • For the family: During a family emergency (yes, I'm looking at you Grandpa - Mr. I'd like to give everyone a scare and have a pacemaker installed) she could publish information so that everyone can follow along. For more fun times, like visits with the Grand kids, she can mention short thoughts, and link to photo albums or videos that others have made.
  • For volunteering: My mom is always volunteering, and one day she's going to realize that she can use Twitter to mobilize the people she works with. She can publish information about programs that are upcoming, appeals for volunteers and logistical information. The Kentucky Secretary of State's use of Twitter was an excellent example of this during the latest election.
  • For Local news: I'm sure other ladies in the community would love to know that a certain store has a hard to find Kosher for Passover item, or some other little tidbit of local news.
  • For Business: She's no longer in the Avon business - but when she was, a Twitter blog would give her a nice little marketing tool. She could remind people of upcoming specials, talk about new products, and generally get the word out. AuctionDirect is a great example of using Twitter for business.

The web allows for not just person to person communication (E-mail and SMS), but for person to group publishing. But, for a lot of people, a standard blogging platform may be overwhelming to get started with. They should give Twitter a try - it gives you the power of broadcasting to a large group of people, with absolute simplicity.

Want to get started?

Getting started with Twitter is easy, head over to and sign up. You'll have to choose a username, which will be your web address. Say, you sign up as "BensMom" - you just tell your friends to visit:

In a lot of respects, you can think of this web address as kind of like your phone number of e-mail address. You'll give it out to people to keep up with you. And Twitter is lightweight enough that you can have a variety of accounts, one for business and one for pleasure.

You can also do Twitter over your cell phone, leaving the whole traditional PC world behind. Just send "HELP" to the phone number 404-04. You can also tell people to follow your blog simply by sending "FOLLOW BenSmom" to 404-04.

You don't need to be a geek to try this out. You just need to have information you'd like to broadcast.

1 comment:

  1. And after learning Twitter I recommend graduating to Tumblr.