Monday, March 05, 2007

Introducing ImpressionStream


Or “How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Just Get With The Blip-Post Programme”.
As this blog has matured, I have deliberately attempted to steer it towards more considered article-type posts and analysis pieces. I have mostly avoided link-blogging because I reckoned that the shifts in tone would be just too jarring. I also want ThoughtPort to become the central resource for my thinking and my content, and not for anyone else’s.
Recently however, I have been on the lookout for somewhere to capture, store and publish material that falls outside of my self-imposed remit for ThoughtPort. Given the ways in which I use the Internet today, of necessity, a lot of the input coming down the information power-hose goes in one eye and out the other. There has to be some utility in collating at least some of the random fragments, nuggets of wisdom, one-liners and oddball WTF double-takes that cross my screen or my mind over the course of a day. The sort of mildly humorous asides or interesting factoids that previously might have warranted a ‘Seen This?’ email.
I have found a home for these blip-posts* on the recently-launched Tumblr service. (Yes, I had to work hard to get past that name too.) The, unfortunately equally ill-named, ‘Tumblelog’ format is a sub-species of blog. Basically it is a much looser, free-form assemblage of fragments and of what used to be called sound-bites (Wikipedia: tumblelog definition). In it I can capture all sorts of content without feeling the need to overlay even the slightest gloss of analysis and opinion. There is none of that over-looming sense of short-changing your readers if you don't bring added value to your posts.
Interestingly, the format also works well at a finer level of granularity than a bookmarking site, which could arguably fulfil the functional aspect of a tumblelog. I regularly tag a blog post into my Del.icio.us account when all I want to retain is just one pertinent sentence. This format is more or less optimised to address precisely that kind of quoting.
Finally, there is a certain ineffable ‘Personal Journal’ quality to the form which appeals to me. Yet, given all that, it is still a blog, it pumps out the RSS, it walks like a blog and it quacks like a blog. What I remain undecided about is whether the format can be of as much interest to readers as it will be to authors.
After all of that pre-justification and contextual back story, here is the link to ImpressionStream. In many ways it is ThoughtPort’s funky little brother, who has a shorter attention span, but who wears way cooler tee-shirts. Or something like that.

*My key recollection from watching the eighties Max Headroom movie as a teenager was the concept of ‘blip-verts’. These were super-concentrated bursts of advertising distilled down and interspersed between normal content (Television content that is, as they somehow forgot to predict the Internet). ‘Blip-posts’ is a derivation of that based on the ever-finer graduation of web content. Originally the website was the prime quantum, then it became the webpage within the site, subsequently the perma-linked post was the basic unit of the web, these micro posts supported by tumblelogs are just the next step down. I guess the ultimate logical step will be for someone to create a social networking site that just posts individual tag words on their own...