As Twitter has risen to prominence, many loud voices have declared it the future of media, the future of journalism, even the future of the free world. I am a fan of Twitter. It is a powerful service that is unbelievably flexible and versatile. But, as I contemplate Twitter, it strikes me that Blogging remains the king of new media.
Given the nature of Twitter, Tweets are necessarily abbreviated and ephemeral. I don't necessarily mean that as a criticism. There are certain real advantages to the brevity of Twitter. Anyone can Tweet. You can do it on the fly. You can do it quickly. And there are virtually no barriers to getting started. What's more, the fleeting nature of Twitter may be a feature as much as a flaw. Twitter put the "real time" in the "Real Time Web." Want to know about a fire or earthquake or service outage that's happening right now? Twitter is your best source of that info by orders of magnitude.
But there are also real limitations to 140 characters about the here and now. A tweet may be well suited to quips and status reports. But when it comes to debate or deeper commentary, a tweet is at best a teaser. Meaningful discussion remains the domain of blogging, not tweeting or status updates. In fact, this blog entry is about 3,100 characters -- the equivalent of 22 tweets. No one would read 22 successive tweets. Nor would anyone try to post them. It is well understood that Twitter is a pointer to the debate, not a home for the debate itself.
Blogs also gain huge advantage from search engines. Search for "VC" on Google and you'll get a bunch of VC Blogs, not VC tweets. Blogs are, in many ways, the institutional knowledge of the Web. If you want to learn about liquidation preference or due diligence or pitching a VC, blogs like this one have a huge amount of content that has been amassed over the last half dozen years; and search engines will unearth that content quickly and easily. While you may be able to find a pointer or two to VC-related content by searching Twitter, even those tweets will likely also point to content residing on VC blogs.
Perhaps the smartest thing that Twitter did was to enable easy linking from tweets (although that API thing was awfully smart too). In doing so, Twitter has become a channel for the most interesting content on the web, wherever it resides. Twitter does not compete with blogging for attention -- it has a symbiotic relationship with blogs. Blogs have become Twitter's payload. Twitter drives traffic to blogs. But blogs imbue those scant 140 characters with substance beyond their limited scope. The passed link has become the currency of Twitter and, more often than not, that link is to a blog.
I don't for a second mean to suggest that the rise of Twitter has been anything short of spectacular. Nor do I mean to imply that blogging trumps tweeting -- they are distinct media forms with distinct value. But it is clear to me that as Twitter grows, so too does the importance of blogging. Twitter may be media's golden child. But in the land of Twitter, blogging is king.