Does Twittergram Matter?

Jul 8th, 2007 | By | Category: Audio Podcasting, Citizen Media, Mobile Podcasting

Twittergram MailmanDonna Bogatin at Insider Chatter is questioning the importance of Twittergram, podcasting pioneer Dave Winer’s latest concoction.

Winer’s unfortunately named Twittergram service (how long until the cease & desist notice is delivered?) is a sort of mashup between Twitter’s short-text message broadcasting and audio podcasting.

Here’s how Winer describes a Twittergram:

A TwitterGram has a title and a small MP3 file. The title explains the gram, it must be no longer than 75 characters, to allow room for the URL of the MP3, which is about 50 characters.

Underlying this is the idea that anyone should be able to publish a stream of short audio, video or other types of messages as easily as publishing text.

Bogatin’s concern is the same concern that we heard from early critics of podcasting – that when you make it easy for amateurs to publish, all you’ll get is an endless stream of crap. Bogatin calls this “narcissim enabling and voyeurism inducing”, and bemoans the fact that Winer is “helping Twitter blabber flourish”.

Bogatin’s criticism does have an element of truth in it.

Making publishing easy means that people will publish a seemingly infinite stream of content, making it hard to find anything worthwhile. But this is the same criticism people had with blogging, and blogging ultimately empowered millions to publish. Many of these blogs have proven to be very interesting, and tools have emerged to making finding interesting blog content easier. Likewise, podcasting has enabled tens of thousands to become audio and video publishers. Many podcasters have proven to be very interesting, and tools are emerging to make finding interesting podcasts easier.

The history of Internet publishing suggests is that it may not be particularly meaningful to judge publishing technologies based on the work of first adopters. Early adopters tend to be technologists talking geek, talking about themselves and talking about the publishing technology itself.

If the technology has legs, though, there could soon be thousands of people “Twittergramming”, and finding something interesting could be as much of a challenge as finding interesting new blogs, podcasts or something worth watching on cable television. Most of these Twittergrams will have no mainstream appeal, or be of interest only to a niche audience.

But what happens when Paris Hilton starts Twittergramming? Or when a new voice emerges, someone that intuitively understands how to use this channel?

It’s not hard to imagine a whole new range of content and content services emerging around the Twittergram concept – let’s just hope that someone comes up with a better name.

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