Yesterday I recorded a podcast interview with the folks from the Second Life Insider blog. Akela, Haver, and Saeya were a blast and asked really great questions. One of the topics we discussed was the pressure we all feel to stay abreast of changes in social technology. We talked about Twitter and why it’s the hot new thing. I’ve been using Twitter for months and really enjoying the instant connectedness I feel with it open on my desktop. However, unknown to us, while we talked about the usefulness of Twitter, a revolution was afoot. In the hour I was talking with the SLI folks there was a mass exodus from Twitter to Jaiku. Being someone who has to stay on top of all of this for my job I checked out Jaiku, realized I’d had an account there since it was in beta and invited my gmail contacts to join me there. Most folks accepted the invitation to see what the hubbub was all about but one friend declined with an interesting response: “Aaagghhh How does this differ from LinkedIn and Twitter? Thank you for thinking of me, but I feel way too connected as it is! I need to disconnect and go to the beach! :-)”
So what’s the difference between Jaiku and Twitter and why should we be using either? And where does Loopnote fit in? And how many more “Social Presence” (SPS) sites are going to pop up and why? So many questions.
First, there are just a couple differences between Jaiku and Twitter. As near as I can tell, from my own experience, Jaiku is more stable. Twitter often coughs and spazzes but Jaiku hasn’t done that yet. Jaiku has it’s own search feature. Twitter used to but then it disappeared so now you have to use Twitterment to effectively find people or keywords on Twitter. Jaiku has a great sidebar feeds feature but Twitter has a mobile version that works really great from my webphone.
Loopnote appears to be a bit different as it is more focused on creating groups of people who receive RSS update alerts. It creates, well, loops! Sort of like Tribe-lite.
The real question isn’t which of these sites will make the grade and survive the 90 typical half-life of a Web 2.0 app, the question is why do they exist? Why do we want to use them? Let me propose a few hypotheses:
Blogging simply takes too long: I’m guessing this is wrong. Too many Twitterers are also bloggers. They use SPS to augment their blogging, emailing, and other social communication.
IM is dead: This is a possibility. I’m far more likely to IM from within another app like Gmail than I am to use AIM, Yahoo, or Xfire (though I have them all). SPS gives you the feel of IM but without the commitment of a one-on-one conversation.
We’ve become even more narcissistic: Answering “What are you doing right now?” and thinking others will actually care about the answer is, well, a bit vain. Truth is, most of the Twitters and Jaikus I see really don’t answer that question. It’s not the “just took a shower, about to walk the dog” type messages you’d expect. You’re much more likely to see messages giving the URL of a great website, a snippet of a news story, or a link to a new blog post. The conversations aren’t one sided either. Lots of folks start their messages with an “@soandso” to direct their messages in reply to another message. Jaiku has comments on entries so sub-conversations can start as well.
SPS is the new “digital neighborhood”: This one is from StoryGeek. We used to talk on the front porch to folks nearby, discuss our day, let people know what we’re up to. Now we do it within a “digital neighborhood” of our own construction.
What do you think? Put your Ubernoggin to work and share your reaction to these new forms of communication.
**UPDATE: And to top it all off, now there is Squawknest. A mashup of Twitter, Jaiku and Second Life. Sweet!
**Another UPDATE: Read Wired’s article about these sites here.
** And yet another: Lisa Reichelt’s theory of Ambient Intimacy for Twitter