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microblogging also micro-blogging

noun [uncountable]

putting short updates such as brief texts, photos etc on a personal blog, especially by using a mobile phone or instant messaging software


verb [intransitive] noun [countable]


noun [countable]

'Ranting on her Twitter micro-blogging page from LA, where she arrived yesterday, the 24-year-old singer rubbished rumours her behaviour towards Berrabah had prompted her to go 'missing' for several days …'

Daily Mail 11th September 2009

'Over the last few days we've microblogged about a number of stories we haven't had the time to get to in the Real World.'

January Magazine 10th September 2009

'The worm then sends messages to everyone on a user's contact list. This allows it to distribute bad links in messages and microblogs that appear to come from a trusted source.'

USA Today 3rd September 2009

'He decided to write a programme that aims to raise awareness amongst Tweeters, as the microbloggers are affectionately known, about how to avoid cons and phishing traps.'

Sky News 21st August 2009

the appeal of microblogging is its immediacy and portability, with updates which can be sent or received in a variety of ways including on mobile, handheld devices

What I'm planning for dinner tonight … a traffic queue on the motorway … the score at the end of the first half … a picture of my new dining table … In today's 'always-on', wireless society, no thought, fact or comment is too trivial to be digitized. Welcome to the world of microblogging.

Microblogging is in essence the same as blogging – creating and maintaining an online journal – but updates, sometimes described as microposts, are characteristically shorter, usually between 140 and 200 characters long. Microposts can be made public on a website or distributed to a specific group of subscribers, who can read them online, via instant messaging, or even on their mobile phone as a text message. The appeal of microblogging is therefore its immediacy and portability, with updates which can be sent or received in a variety of ways including on mobile, handheld devices. Though most microblogging involves text, usually brief statements of one or two sentences, some microblogging services allow video and audio posts. Following the pattern of blogging, the word microblogging has the related forms microblogger, referring to a user, and microblog, which can be used either as a verb or a noun describing the journal entry itself.

As well as the popular social networking function of microblogging, a number of other significant applications are emerging, such as real-time news updates on sport, weather, traffic problems, etc. Flagship media organisations such as the BBC have now begun to make headlines available in the form of microblogs.

Although social networking services like Facebook and MySpace have their own microblogging feature, the most popular and well-known microblogging service is Twitter, within which microblogs/microposts are sometimes referred to as tweets (and microbloggers as tweeters). Tweets must be less than 140 characters in length. In 2008, then presidential candidate Barack Obama famously used Twitter when he microblogged from the campaign trail. Other popular microbloggers in the public eye include British actor and TV personality Stephen Fry.

Background of microblogging

Microblogging and its related forms derive of course from a combination of the word blog (meaning online journal, the popular contraction of weblog) and the prefix micro-, defined in the Macmillan Online Dictionary as 'extremely small'.

Since its first appearance in the late nineties, blog has embedded itself in popular usage, partly because its simplicity lends itself to participation in just about any process of word formation. Among the many examples are: derivation into noun blogger, conversion into intransitive verb blog, compounding/affixation to give audioblog and microblog, and the formation of popular blends such as phlog (photo and blog) and moblog (mobile and blog).

by Kerry Maxwell, author of Brave New Words

Last week …

Read last week's BuzzWord. NEET, an acronym for not in employment, education or training.

This article was first published on 7th October 2009.

Open Dictionary

Dunning-Kruger effect

the phenomenon by which an incompetent person is too incompetent to understand his own incompetence

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