Do you ever feel limited by traditional microblogging services? I understand that part of their appeal is the 140 character restriction but sometimes a thing needs more than a line or two. Isn’t that what blogs are for? Well, not really. If you want to keep a decent blog, little blurbs about a fleeting thought will eventually wear on your audience. There needs to be a middle ground. I think I might have found it.
Posterous is a new message posting service that resembles a microblog like Twitter or Plurk but never explicitly labels itself as one. It’s just as well, because in all fairness, it isn’t. Posterous has blog-like attributes and microblog-like attributes, both of which have made it into a more versatile service.
First of all, there are several ways to connect with Posterous. If you want to treat the service like a blog, you can to go the web and create a new post, complete with a WYSIWYG editor that allows for editing of the HTML. The posts can be as long as you like too. If you want to use Posterous like a microblog, then you can update via text message or email account. The text messaging works exactly as you would expect it to, but you are limited to 110 characters after the keyword “POST.”
A more interesting route is the email. Instead of a “private” email address which would normally consist of some alpha-numeric sequence, Posterous lets you send all your messages to firstname.lastname@example.org. From there the service checks to see if your email came from an address that is registered with a user account. If it isn’t, Posterous creates a unique address for that post and emails the URL back to the sender. For those who don’t like to leave a footprint, this is a great feature. That URL (which is in a “http://*name_code*.posterous.com” format) is then shareable with others who will also be able to see your post.
If you play around with Posterous for a while and decide to create an account, the system will automatically take all of the old posts tied to your newly registered address and merge them with your new account. Never fear though, all of the old URLs will redirect to your new Posterous account. Pretty neat, huh?
Store and Share Docs and Media
One of the big draws for me is the ability to share all kinds of media on Posterous. According to their FAQ, Posterous allows you to post .doc, .ppt, and .pdf document formats; .jpg, .png, and .gif image formats; and .mp3, .avi, and .mpg audio/video formats. While that isn’t everything, the selection will probably cover all of the file sharing you need to do. In order to attach a file to your post, simply attach it to the email you are sending. If you are texting or editing via the web, it doesn’t look like you can directly upload content so keep that in mind.
Above is a sample of what you can do with audio clips. I attached two sound files to my post and Posterous generated a player for each. If you upload a video, it creates a video player for it. If you attach a document, it tries to convert it into iPaper. I made an attempt at attaching a Word document (it’s not a perfect system…the document should fit on one page).
There is a simple management system for all of your posts. If you just want to view them, going to your general URL (“http://username.posterous.com”) will show your posts blog-style. If you need to change them, clicking the “manage” link will take you to this interface:
Aside from a standard edit/delete option, the management screen also shows you the number of views and comments each post has received, as well as how many people have favorited it. Also, there is definitely an opportunity to use Posterous as a social network, since you can favorite or follow other users’ posts. I haven’t found it to be terribly compelling, but it’s nice to know its there in case the community grows.
To quote any of The Middleman‘s villains, Posterous is “sheer elegance in its simplicity.” Getting started is completely automatic, user accounts are useful but not mandatory, many useful media formats are supported, and to top it all off, it’s a social network too. While I don’t think I’ll use Posterous every day, I certainly intend to share media through it (probably by firing the URL through Ping.fm).
Do you think you’ll use Posterous for anything? If you have any clever ideas, post them in the comments!
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