OK, I know what you’re thinking: Aren’t standard blogs a form of macroblogging we all know and love? Didn’t blogs come into being long before the microblogging platform we call Twitter? You can pontificate for as long as you like without limitation on a blog. This can be detrimental if the blog is a long, unfocused stream of consciousness; most readers will lose interest.
However, the freedom to communicate at length is much more appropriate to communicate complex ideas. Well-written, macroblogging keeps a reader’s interest and strikes back against the Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) culture that has infected Americans. Reading and writing at length trains the mind to focus on longer, more complex ideas. Limiting oneself to Twitter’s 140 characters has narrowed the focus of an entire generation of youth. Some would say it’s caused people to communicate in a more concise manner, but if you’ve spent much time on Twitter at all, you know that the bulk of users seem to have lost touch with the beauty of language altogether.
Woofer encourages a return to intelligent communication
Sure, tongue may have been planted firmly in cheek when Woofer went online, but I think they’re on to something: a revolt against microblogging’s widespread illiteracy. They don’t say that, but I will.
Network World reports that Woofer and its 1,400-character minimum posts are for “anyone who complains that Twitter posts are too short to be meaningful.” It functions in a manner similar to Twitter in that it provides a numerical countdown to show you how many characters you have left to go. Of course with Woofer, you must exceed 1,400 characters before the post function is enabled. The interface appears to be almost identical, and it encourages users to tweet about Woofer. At one time, the macroblogging site even “borrowed” user photos from Twitter.
While Woofer does admit to being a “homage” to Twitter, they are now attempting to be legally conscious. “We are not affiliated in any way whatsoever with Twitter,” they say in the footer of their site. They are run by a small Washington D.C.-based group called Join the Company. Their stated goal is to launch “entertaining Web sites that change the way people use the Internet.”
Woofer is still finding its unique identity
Woofer’s user interface is near identical to Twitter, however. The service also urges users to tweet about Woofer and for a while Woofer took profile pictures from Twitter users. Apparently they no longer do this.
Network World reporter Jon Brodkin came across a couple of interesting little bugs in Woofer, bugs that Woofer is in the process of fixing. The Woofer interface asked for his Twitter username before he could woof. After entering it, Woofer automatically pulled his Twitter picture from his Twitter account. He was logged in to Twitter at the time, so he reasoned that’s how Woofer could do that. However, when he attempted to woof using the Twitter username of someone he’d never met, it did the same thing – it pulled that user’s Twitter photo and posted it with Brodkin’s woof. Thus, Woofer enabled him to impersonate that individual. Such a loophole could be exploited for identity theft, which is likely why Woofer jumped on repairing that vulnerability. Now a little blue dog is supposed to accompany posts, rather than Twitter profile images.
Clearly, there are bugs that Woofer needs to work out
However, there are some safeguards in place to prevent people from endlessly repeating a character. Brodkin tried to post 1,400 instances of the letter “d,” but Woofer came back with this response:
No Woof. Really?! 1400 characters and you can only use d? You can do better than that…
So far, most users of Woofer have limited themselves to copying and pasting passages from books, song lyrics, iPod playlists or anything else that makes it through whatever filter system Woofer has in place. Give them time. 1,400 characters is a lot for some people, but I imagine the Woofer community will evolve with time. Twitter didn’t exactly take off in its first few weeks, did it?