Posts Tagged ‘microblog’
My experiments with Twitter, documented in previous postings here have stubbornly refused to yield any conclusive proof that the tool is useful for anything other than spreading gnomic utterances about life, my blogs, the universe and er…. computers. I struggle to write interesting one liners -and deprived of the context that Facebook provides it’s status line, the one liners really don’t do it for me. I’m full of beans but do I really need to tell the world?
The problem, I think, is that when I consider it, I don’t have a lot of practice in meaningful many to many communications – in fact the relentless march of technology has herded us all away from the family dinner table, into either 1:1 communications (txt, telephone) or 1:Many (n) communications (radio, TV). We’re just not that good at n: n. I challenge you to remember the last conference call where you didn’t have to IM a colleague to enquire “Who is this talking?”.. Actually, the dinner table doesn’t generally yield fantastic results – except possibly in volume, but at least I usually know who’s talking. Probably me.
Which brings me to Pownce ! Just what I need, I thought, another microblogging / social software solution – only Pownce actually has some rather interesting features. Starting on the basis that it is a microblog, it has the concept of friends (not followers, thank god! I was never comfortable with that conceit). Messages can be broadcast or private – ie the app can be used to IM with a friend. OK Twitter can as well if you use the direct message facility, but Pownce is a lot more intuitive.
The killer functionality though is file attachments – you can send in the free client, 50mb attachments as part of a chat session. A file – music, picture, or a link or an event. Signing up to the Pro version raises the bar to 250mb. To me this makes the application immediately useful, in a way that Twitter just isn’t.
Additionally, Pownce has a downloadable client, running on the Adobe Air platform which utilises both the WebKit (in common with Chrome) and Flash engines, has published API’s and a rapidly expanding list of supported / integrated tooling. Including inevitably iPhone support, Facebook synchronisation and a host of other interesting looking widgets.
I’m in. Once the user base has grown and the tooling supports automated Powncing in the same way that Twitter does, I see Pownce as a real contender – in fact, in these times of market turmoil I’d be tempted to put money on it!
So after a couple of months of use, I find myself facing the tricky question, ‘what exactly is the point of Twitter?’ or to put it another way, ‘how come Twitter got to be so popular?’
For the uninitiated it is a microblogging site which allows the user to publish 140 characters at a time. It is simple to publish by text, and by using third parties such as Twitterfeed, the ‘Tweet’ can be inserted into a Facebook status line. The term microblog is used to describe a blog consisting of or allowing only very basic content, typically text only.
In Twitter, one can post a message or ‘Tweet’ and it is possible to follow individual users and in this way build up or join with a community. The obvious and possibly most common use of Twitter is social (I’m off to see Radiohead in the park – anyone fancy hooking up?) – I wonder actually how much bigger the ‘rave’ scene would have been had Twitter existed in the 80′s…
An interesting development yesterday saw Twitter cancelling it’s outbound SMS service, at least in the UK – which I suspect was one of the features that has made it so popular. The reason for this is the high charges Twitter face from the telecomms companies involved in forwarding texts internationally. It seems that talks are ongoing with several providers, can’t help wondering if this was something that could have been negotiated before the service was introduced?
Other ways I have seen Twitter used are various – posts of the type ‘I’m in the supermarket, pondering the benefits of veal’ abound – and seem to me to add little to anyone’s life. More useful are the Tweets broadcast from conferences – Lotusphere for example was broadcast virtually live from presentation to the internet in seconds.
Where Twitter really excels is in the viral spread of news – links to industry gossip, breaking events etc are everywhere and given the 140 character limit, extremely quick to deliver. As a channel, Twitter is useful to me for this type of content – choose your ‘follow’ list carefully and you will quickly find yourself plugged into the niche networks of your choice.
Perhaps less useful is the small industry of addons – each ‘Tweet’ is appended with the source, (added from the web) personally if I see a Tweet added from Twinkle or Twhirl instead of web or txt, I’m compelled to check out the source in case there is some new gadget I’ve missed! So very effective indeed as a displacement activity!
Spamming is a small problem so far – I was bemused to find myself being followed by ‘PornSite25′ some weeks ago – but this is not as intrusive as it is with E-Mail for example. And if it’s not effective, then it’s unlikely that it will become a major problem.
I’m not sure I’ve found an answer, but it has been useful enough for me to want to continue – there is a sense that the more you put into it, in terms of providing useful content, the more useful the application will become. I’ll continue the experiment and report back!