A couple of days ago I posted on the various micro-blogging services, but I still have more to say…this post is more specifically about how the various services deal with conversation.
Like blogs, micro-blogging is about publishing, only more spontaneous, and usually within a social network. Sometimes this limited publishing space is called presence posting as you only have enough space to say something like: where you are or what your doing or will be doing…but really this space can be used for any type of content. What makes micro-blogging so spontaneous is that it is mostly coupled with mobile access, whether that’s mobile web, SMS/MMS or email. This mobile access is why it was perhaps first talked about as presence posting…when you are on the go, you can publish your agenda and availability.
Micro-blogging is not only about publishing, it’s also about people, and just like the blogosphere, there is conversation.
Let’s examine some brief differences and how each service presents conversation.
Jaiku has profile aggregation which sets it apart from Twitter and Pownce.
You can make a spliced feed from all your profiles using FeedDigest, and then use Twitterfeed to enable Twitter to lifestream like Jaiku, but I prefer keeping up with friendstreams and microblogging apart. Reason being is I find it hard enough keeping up with my Twitter stream, and if these included content from elsewhere it would just get in the way.
In saying this, Twitter is an excellent candidate for lifestreaming, if they implemented it, we could have another tab in the user page:
- My Twitter stream
- My Twitter stream with Friends
- My Lifestream
- My Twitter stream and Lifestream
- My Friendstream
- My Friendstream and Friends Twitter stream
It would be good if Jaiku could separate the profile aggregated content into a separate lifestream, or if we could at least see just micro posts in one stream.
Jaiku has icons for each post…this gives more context of presence or location.
Jaiku also as a channels feature where you append your post with a (#) tag and it will also appear in a channel.
LOCATION AWARENESS AND AVAILABILITY
If you use their download phone app:
- it can even locate your current location using cell towers
- locate closest friends using Bluetooth
- share your calendar
- share your ring profile availability
So as we can see Jaiku is about profile aggregation, micro-blogging, channel chat, and I can see with Google’s help it’s really going to differentiate itself in the presence/location awareness game, for more see:
Mobile presence : Iotum-Talk Now and “The Swarm”
Mobile motion presence and location awareness
I can see greatly why Jaiku can still do well against the Twitter darling, as it has some different uses that Twitter doesn’t offer.
Every item in Jaiku has comments, even the lifestreaming items.
When you make a comment, this also becomes a post in your stream, this means comments appear in two spots, under the original post and also in the stream.
Jaiku user page
- displays a users posts and comments
- doesn’t display content from their contacts (this is called “Overview” in the dashboard view)
- doesn’t display comments made to your posts as posts themselves, you have to you click under each item to see comments
In all your public page when seen by others doesn’t give a clear picture of conversation.
- displays a users posts and comments
- displays content from their contacts (Overview)
- displays as a new post in the stream when someone leaves a comment on one of your posts or someone else’s post
The dashboard view gives much more of a notion of the conversations taking place…not sure why the public user page can’t be the same.
Another thing I like is, not only do you get the benefit of conversation in the stream (as a comment is also a post itself), but comments are also aggregating under the initial post…others can catch up on the conversation in a tidy thread.
What would be good in the dashboard view is to have a tab to another stream to just see a list of comments people have made on your posts. This is a good idea incase you haven’t used Jaiku in a couple of days, and want to catch up with what people are saying to you. Then again this is what email alerts are for, just like when you get new comments on a regular blog.
Is this really conversation at it’s best?
I’m not too sure, in this instance conversation happens around objects (posts)…unless you post something, no-one can comment you.
Conversations thrive when it’s people to people, which is lacking ie. in Jaiku you cannot post and push it to someone (like IM, SMS, email, etc…).
With Twitter you can ping another user with a private or public post, this is what makes Twitter conversations more thriving as it doesn’t have to be based around objects (posts).
Twitter has two differentiating features: replies and direct messages.
As mentioned Jaiku does not have private messages, and it does not have public messages either, if you want to ping a person, it has to be in the context of one of their posts (leaving a comment), so this really makes Jaiku more like blogs, only micro-blogs within a network of friends. And the stream is kind of like an RSS Reader river of news as you can see your friends posts streaming past.
Another difference with Twitter is besides your contacts (friends or people you follow), you also have people who are following you, kind of like seeing how many times you are subscribed to within the Twitter system.
Twitter user page
- updates (your stream)
- with others (your stream and your friends stream in one stream)
NOTE: replies appear in your “with others” stream
- recent (your stream and your friends stream in one stream)
- archive (your stream)
- replies (public tweets sent to you)
NOTE: replies also appear in your “recent” stream, as well as replies your friends make to their friends (you can limit this to just mutual friends)
Twitter has a feature called direct messages, this is kind of like email or private messages in most social networks, it basically enables you to send a friend a private message, these are read in your sent box and inbox.
First I’ll make it clear, Twitter posts don’t have comments!
Twitter’s winning feature is @replies…this is the public messages feature. I don’t know why it’s called replies, as it’s not only used in a reactive way, you can use it to initiate a shoutout.
This feature really makes Twitter a conversational tool, just as much as a publishing tool.
If you want to send a message to another user (whether they are your friend or not), you just append the message with “@name”
eg. @abby are we going to yoga tonight?
This will appear in your “you and others” stream or as Jaiku calls it “Overview” (as mentioned this view is not available in the public user page).
It will also appear in another stream called “replies”, this displays all tweets with @yourname in it.
Now, coincidentally if you see a tweet you want to comment on, you just send an @reply post.
This could be a tweet that has caught your interest or it could be a shoutout (reply) tweet that someone has sent you.
What happens is that tweets that begin with @name have a link at the end of the tweet labelled “in reply to”, clicking this will take you to the initial tweet that is being replied to.
But this is really not so all the time, any tweet that begins with @name will link to the last tweet of that person.
If I send a @name tweet as a shoutout
eg. @abby are we going to yoga tonight? the end of this tweet will have a link to abby’s last tweet which may be eg. what a great sunny morning. This really has nothing to do with my tweet I’m sending her, they are not related whatsoever.
The other problem is even if you are replying to a tweet, what happens when the user makes more tweets before you get to reply.
I say eg. @abby are we going to yoga tonight?, then I make another tweet eg. people talking loud on the train. Then abby tweets @johnt yoga sounds good. The end of abby’s tweet will link to my tweet about people talking loud on the train…this just isn’t right.
Twitter’s initial focus was command posting by SMS, problem is you can’t send a reply targeted to the ID of a particular tweet, and a shoutout isn’t targeted to anything, it’s an initiator post.
So 3 things:
- @name can be used for shoutouts and replies
- a @name post will link to the last post of the person you are replying/shoutout to
- Twitter replies/shoutouts seem to be more progressive chat (like IM) rather than just object focused comments.
Sure the conversation can be easily followed as it happens, but you can’t really look at past conversations as there lacks a threaded feature.
Like Jaiku Twitter has a 3rd party service called hastags that enables channels.
Pownce is not just text you can also send files
Pownce has templates for content type eg. text, links, files, events
- you can later filter content by type
NOTE: comments you make, and comments others make to you, appear as new posts of their own, as well as appearing under a post…this is like Jaiku.
NOTE: Pownce doesn’t have lifestreaming
Pownce User Page
- user (your stream)
- user with friends (your stream and your friends stream in one stream)
- default setting is “all notes and replies”
(your posts, your replies as new posts, your friends posts, your friends replies to you as new posts)
What Pownce has over Jaiku is:
- in the public view people get to see your content, and friends content in one stream…this is only available in the Jaiku dashboard view.
But the issue with both Pownce and Jaiku is:;
- comments you make, and comments others make to you don’t appear as new posts in the public user view, this only happens in the dashboard view
- in saying this, in the public view, you can still read comments by clicking the comments link that live under posts.
What Jaiku has over Pownce is:
- comments your friends make to others, doesn’t appear in either view (dashboard view only for Jaiku)
But where these two services shine is that the comments are also accumulated (just like a blog) under a post, this way a conversation is all neat and tidy…as mentioned Twitter has a problem with distilling conversations around an object.
But Pownce is different…
You can group your friends into sets so you can just post to a set of people, you can also post to individuals…your public page will only show posts that you have made public.
When you post in Pownce you have a choice of audience:
- all my friends
- a set
- private (an individual)
This means you can send a shoutout to one person, but it’s not in public, it’s more like Twitter direct messages. This lacks the conversation market effect of Twitter, but nonetheless you can shoutout.
Your public user page will only show posts you and your friends send as “public”
Within your dashboard you can filter for content:
- all notes and replies
- private notes (can’t specify an individual)
- non-public notes
- sent by me
- sent to a set
You can also filter below, but you can’t do something like show me all events posted by me:
This is what really sets Pownce apart, the fact the you can have content aimed at all different people and groups within the same filtered stream. With the same service you can engage in both a formal (public, all friends) and informal (sets, individuals) network.
Twitter is a conversation market, whether you’re in your dashboard or your public page, anyone can see a stream of the conversation, items you see:
- your posts
- your friends posts
- your replies/shoutouts
- your friends replies/shoutouts to you
- your friends replies/shoutouts to friends you have in common (you can even set this to include friends you don’t have in common)
Pownce and Jaiku have these 5 features above (excluding replies for a comments mechanism) only in the dashboard view (exception is that Pownce doesn’t show comments your friends make on their friends posts).
But the main reason that makes Twitter more of a conversation market is that conversations can be more like chatting, they don’t have to be in the context of an object (commenting on a post), instead it’s more person to person, kind of like a chat room or a public IM conversation.
Whereas with Jaiku and Pownce conversations are around an object (the micro-post), this is just like the blogosphere.
As mentioned Twitter is replying or shouting out to a person, whereas the others are around an object, Twitter also has direct messages so you can chat in private.
In saying this Pownce allows you to send a post to an individual or a set of people, and that individual or someone from the set can send a post back or reply, so this makes it both a conversation around an object or a person (or set of people), only it’s not displayed on the public user page, in other words you can’t have a conversation with an individual in public…I like that you can do this in Twitter as it makes it viral, you can jump into conversations.
But then Pownce is the tool of choice for trust based informal networks, the fact that you can use the same system to post to: public, friends, a set of friends, or an individual makes it very versatile.
The “set” feature (organising friends in groups) is not really that much better than email conversations.
When you post to a set, each recipient will see who else got the post. When a recipient replies, all initial people get the post. This is exactly like email (to: field, reply to all).
At this stage I don’t think you can include others in the conversation, the post can only be forwarded (just like email). Reason for this is the recipients are based on the initiators set of friends, it’s not a communal channel.
But the good thing is that the conversation is archived.
Tumblr falls into a similar category as Jaiku:
- profile aggregator
- friend stream view
- upload files
- 3rd party comments
- re-blog posts (unlike Jaiku)
Plaxo Pulse seems to be a combination:
- profile aggregator
- friend stream view
- re-share posts
- post and filter stream by contact sets (like Pownce)
- private messages
- comment wall
- status update (like Facebook)
As far as conversations go Plaxo Pulse is more similar to Jaiku and Pownce than Twitter.
But, unlike Jaiku and Pownce comments are not shown as new posts in Plaxo Pulse.
You can filter a stream by content type, but since comments you make are not posts of their own, this means you can’t filter content by comments you have made. I would like to be able to collect comments in a stream, just like Pownce, or Twitter for that matter (Pownce doesn’t further filter to “replies just by me”, instead it has both; replies others have made to me, and replies I have made to others).
Plaxo Pulse has status updates (like Facebook), but unlike Facebook people can leave comments on Plaxo Pulse status updates.
But you can’t filter by this content type, ie. see a stream of just status updates.
Similar to Facebook you have micro-posts (eg. notes, posted-items), Plaxo Pulse calls them (Messages, Links, etc…)
Plaxo Pulse also has lifestreaming.
So what are posts in Jaiku, Twitter and Pownce more similar to:
- the Plaxo Pulse posts or the Plaxo Pulse status updates
We have been talking about explicit conversations, another perspective is keeping up on a conversation about a topic, where people are not directly having the conversation with each other.
An example of this is Twitter tracking, where you can track occurrences of a word/s eg. california fire.
Several Twitter search engines have a word burst type feature to see the latest posts with the term eg. “fire”.
Then, as mentioned we have Channels, in Twitter’s case a service called hashtags…now this is posts about the same topic, not just posts that have a word in it, it’s more about aboutness. But still this is not explicit conversation, it’s stuff on the same topic.
Coming back to explicit conversation…what is a trackback or inlink in micro-blogging?
In the blogosphere you can leave a comment on a blog post, or publish your own post and ping (trackback) the blog post you are talking about, so the person you are pinging is notified that you are contributing to the conversation from your own blog. The person you pinged will have a link to your post in the comments section of their blog post, it’s almost like leaving a remote comment.
If you don’t ping that person (trackback), they may still find out you have talked about them, as you may have linked to their blog post. If this person organises themselves to be notified whenever someone links to their blog, they will see your post and read it as part of the conversation.
I posted on these distributed conversations a long time ago…the main deal was being able to distill this stuff.
The other thing is because the blogosphere is not a social network where you add friends, or just look at the public page, you won’t really know these conversations are happening. The blogosphere is distributed, but let’s see if we can make it into a distributed social network.
How do trackbacks relate to microblogging?
- there isn’t a way to write a post and ping another post, to let them know your post is conversing with them.
- there is no way for someone to know if someone is trying to converse with them
- the only way is leaving a comment (I suppose when you leave a comment, it also becomes a post…it’s like doing a trackback the other way around)
- same as above
- after I write the post, I could use the “forward” feature to forward it to the person I’m talking about, but only if they are on my friend list
- instead I could write the post, and just send it to them, instead of making it public, but then the public is out of the loop in this conversation…and again the person must be on my friend list.
- this works more like trackbacks
- I can write a post eg. @abby is a cool dancer too - and abby will be notified I’m talking to her or about her
- I’m not really pinging one of her posts like in the blogosphere, instead I’m pinging her
Once again Twitter shows that it is an all round conversational tool, as much as it is a publishing tool…it really blurs the boundary of status, blogging and IM (chat).