Twitter co-founder Biz Stone on “The Colbert Report” (posted April 4, 2009)

Twitter’s other founder Evan Williams at the Ted conference (Feb 27, 2009)

“Flutter” founder, Matt Ibsen (April 3, 2009)

The messaging service we didn’t know we needed until we had it” is how Twitter co-founder Biz Stone described the explosive micro-blogging platform last week to Comedy Central’s cantankerously comical commentator Stephen Colbert.

Separately, WOMMA creator Andy Sernovitz pinged me with news that Dell’s former VP of Communities and Conversations Bob Pearson has joined the Blog Council as its president.

“Social media represents a disruptive set of technologies and techniques that will transform a company’s business practices, improve conversational capabilities with customers and empower employees to learn and share their knowledge in real time,” said Pearson in the release.

Share knowledge in real time. Hmmm. I get the “real-time” bit, and definitely appreciate the knowledge-sharing aspect of blogs and even microblogs. It’s when we go from “posts” to “tweets” to “flaps” that, for me, something gets lost in translation. (But I also remember when journalistic purists criticized USA Today’s shorter format. They called it “MacPaper.”

Yesterday, my old blogging buddy Kami Huyse (@kamichat), who dragged me into the Twitterverse nearly two years ago, tweeted a link to a video (above) on an alleged new “Twitter-like” platform called Flutter. It’s USP? Flutter takes Twitter’s 140-character limit to nanoblog status by allowing just 26-character posts, or “flaps” (like the “wings of a Hummingbird”).

Now I should tell you that the video in question, and the “nanoblog” itself, are fakes. The vid features two supposed Stanford University alums and an array of other stereotypical Web 2.0-wannabes wistfully waxing on their new Twitter-killing platform. The folks at Slate created this parody, perhaps to put a lid on the hyperbole that surrounds Twitter. (Could this be the beginning of a backlash for Twitter’s media ubiquity?)

Nonetheless, the Flutter video has gone viral, and many still don’t realize it’s a ruse. For me, it’s scarily prescient given the trend-to-shortness we’ve seeing with our channels of communications. I still appreciate the utility of blogs and microblogs, especially for us PR peeps. In fact, when asked about celebrities’ use of Twitter, Biz said of Demi and Ashton:

“…not only are they connecting with fans…they’re controlling their messaging, the tabloids aren’t, so they can now say that this is what I’m up to and you can report on that if you want to.”

Any shorter than that, I’ll really begin to wonder what’s become of substantive discourse.


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  2. There are a lot of emerging communication trends that are used for promotions and marketing purposes. Micro blogging as popularized by Twitter is a good way for companies to reach their market and increase contractor leads. The advancement of technology created a space for consumers and producers to meet and strike mutually benefiting deals. However, people should be wary of the quality of the content. Since the trend is shortening messages, some things get lost in translation. I agree that substantive discourse should be the priority for marketing campaigns so that clients would be able to make informed choices. A framework where significant information are kept even in the most concise form should be maintained for the benefit of prospective clients.

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