Mindcasting versus Lifecasting

I love to follow trends and as I dig deeper into the many ways to use social media in the news business, the more interesting it is to watch trends in this quickly changing world. The big talk I’m seeing right now is the difference between mindcasting and lifecasting.

Mindcasting is when you broadcast what’s on your mind. This blog post is a mindcast. I’m typing out my thoughts on these two different styles of social communication. A lot of journalism professionals who are looking at the future of the industry tend to mindcast. They share links and tips and ideas about what is happing to the profession of journalism. Lifecasting is broadcasting what you’re doing in your life. If you are at the gas station, you mention how you’re filling up the tank. If you’re in the waiting room of the doctor’s office, you might mention how you’re not looking forward to stepping onto the scale when the nurse calls you into the examination room. A person who lifecasts talks about the day to day activities in their life. Usually you’ll see these two styles in many different forms on Twitter.

That made me think about how I tweet. I thought about it a lot especially after I got blasted by a person who has been in the broadcast profession for a very long time. He complained about how I tweet. He complained about how I tweet about going to the grocery store (which I actually do on a very rare occasion). I told him he could stop following me and not need to worry about my tweets. But he just kept complaining. What I couldn’t get him to understand was the fact that what I write on Twitter is something he can choose to read or not read. That’s the great thing about the microblog experience. You can choose to read and you can choose to not read. It’s much easier than deciding to unfriend a person on Facebook. A Twitter stream is just a Twitter stream. You don’t loose any other connection with that person. If you follow them on Facebook, you also lose all of that person’s contact information. If you unfollow on Twitter, you just don’t “listen” to that person’s little comments – mundane or non-mundane.

The interaction with this person made me realize that I use Twitter with a combination of mindcasting and lifecasting. I have a bunch of followers who seem to be okay with that style… And I had to think about what is appropriate for a journalist. If I was working in a more traditional newsroom, would I tweet differently? I doubt it. I think the items I tweet about show the many facets of my life: journalism, newsroom management, higher education, technology, parenting, parenting a child with physical challenges, owning a dog, running and exercise, marriage, and you know – sometimes it’s about grocery shopping. It makes me real. It shows the reality of being a journalist who is more than just a journalist. We’re all like that… Or at least, we all try to expand our life beyond work.

I’d be curious to hear what you think – in a mindcasting or lifecasting way.

7 comments ↓

#1 Steve Cusumano on 04.25.09 at 8:37 am

I think I tend to mindcast over lifecast, but one reason for that is that I can’t get to Twitter wit my my mobile phone (yeah, how lame am I?).

Not sure if I tweet any differently for work than I do for my personal life, and I’m not sure I’d want to tweet differently for the two. I think it’s important to use twitter (as a journalist) the same way our readers use it. To constantly use it just to promote yourself blatantly is to become ignored, and I think that’s something a lot of news organizations haven’t gotten yet. Like anything else, I think it comes down to if you’re interesting, or if you’re not.

Regarding the danger of someone being annoyed by your tweeting pattern, one way to view Twitter is as a radio. You can jump from station to station, and you’re not going to like everything you hear. And when that happens, you’re free to move to a different station. Twitter is the same…except everyone is a station. Don’t like what you hear, you’re free to move on (stop following).

#2 Jen Reeves on 04.25.09 at 10:24 am

Exactly! That’s why it was so difficult to get out of that conversation when Twitter doesn’t force you to read or converse with anyone. I guess I just need to keep educating about how these tools can be helpful!

#3 Sarah Clark on 04.25.09 at 8:46 pm

Good storytelling needs both.

#4 Seth Putnam on 04.25.09 at 9:14 pm

Great topic. I think “mindcasting” and “lifecasting” are excellent ways to describe concepts that people have been subconsciously aware of for a while.

Silly as it sounds, it took me a while to realize that I need to be more selective about whom I follow on Twitter. But in general, I dislike lifecasting and tend to favor mindcasting. In my own blog, I started it with the intention of staying away from strict calendar-like lifecasting (“10:30am: I’m at Reporting,” etc.), but I think I’ve since found a balance that I’m comfortable with.

I guess I think that it’s important to follow the lifecasts of only those real-life acquaintances that you want to keep up with. In general, I think mindcasts are the more useful of the two.

#5 Jamie Grey on 04.26.09 at 11:15 am

Personally, I do both on my twitter. I use twitter for business, and the best thing about the program is giving me the ability to show viewers not only what’s coming up tonight on the news… but that I’m a real person with a personality!

#6 Jen Reeves on 04.28.09 at 8:20 pm

Thanks you guys… It really seems like the more people I talk to, the more either mindcast or mix it together.

#7 What a year « New Media Mind on 01.01.10 at 1:26 pm

[…] I became more mindful towards what I wrote and started to mindcast more. I explained my thoughts on lifecasting/mindcasting earlier in 2009. I think I still believe in a combination of mind/lifecasting. But I toned down the life portions. […]

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