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March, 2009:

SocialThing, Ping.fm and the microblog revolution

Being a bit of a scatterbrain with a short attention span, I adore microblogging. Twitter was my first step into 140 character-limited madness, and I fully abused the sms option after joining. My activity on the site fluctuated as is typical for me, but then kind of dropped off as Twitter’s stability started to wobble. Clearly people were catching on to the fun of one-liner-blogging, which was good, but also bad. Downtime increased, errors were common and at one point you couldn’t even go back through your history to look at old tweets. It was getting more and more frustrating to use – you’d post, but Twitter wouldn’t recognize it, your 140 character thought lost to the ether of the internet.

There were other microblogging services of course, the ones I used included Jaiku and Pownce (now closed as of Dec 15th 2008). Neither of them really caught on for me, although I was a little sad to see Pownce go (it let you upload & share files with friends!). Jaiku’s main fault was not really accepting Japanese characters, which is a big ( iдi ) for me.

And then… there was Plurk. Somehow, the move to it felt natural, and I’ve made a lot of neat friends through it, but I haven’t abandoned my Twitter either, so I’ll explain the +/- of each here:

+ simple interface – just type, send, done.
+ lots of 3rd party apps for mobile phones and computers
+ sms option
+ can follow your favorite famous personalities (or their fake counterparts)
+ everybody and their mom should know about it by now
+ spamming is ok. what I mean is, posting lots in a row, no real penalties (although I think there is flood control)
spamming is technically ok, so you can get people who are a little too excited about twittering and end up telling you things you don’t want to know. This is a problem related to all microblogging services, but it can’t be ignored.
even though you can reply to people, it’s kind of difficult to manage a thread since you don’t always know what tweet someone is replying to
Twitter is like shouting into the void and hoping someone shouts back – the way it’s set up is very individualist. Good for following news, not so good for making friends.
Serial adders run rampant. You can prevent random people from following you by protecting your updates, but it’s all or nothing – there’s no way to be selective about which tweets are which.

+ creativity in posting – using verbs like says/likes/hates/wishes/has takes a little getting used to, but can be a lot of fun to play around with
+/- karma is a challenge and a reward – you’re active, you gain karma. (conversely, if you aren’t active enough, you lose karma, which can be frustrating)
+/- spam is controlled by karma… kind of. If you post too much you can lose karma! An odd idea to be sure, but I can see where they came up with this plan of action…
+ since the interface is designed very much like a chatroom, it’s ridiculously easy to have a conversation with someone (or lots of someones!) without losing the thread
+ continuing on the above, it’s much easier to get to know people in this format!

+ privacy options! individual plurks can be public, private or varying levels of protected (you can specific the users on the spot! no need to make specific filters if you don’t want to) however you can’t change this once you’ve made the plurk – you either have to delete it and start over or grin and bear it.
no sms option as of yet, although IM is possible.
there aren’t a lot of good 3rd party apps for plurk yet
plurk is less well known, so if you’re begging your friends to join a microblogging service, they’re less likely to want to join one they’ve never heard of…
plurk recently has had more downtime than I’d like, but it’s nowhere near as disastrous as Twitter got during my transition… not yet anyway.

Sometimes, I really do feel like spamming my microblog and chatting away into the endless, unforgiving chasm that is the internet, and plurk would penalize me for it. So I use my twitter. Although these days, I don’t actually log in to the main Twitter site, but into Socialthing! instead. ST lets me post to Twitter (and plurk, through Ping.fm, if I want) and since I’m already watching my Twitter feeds there, it’s convenient. Occasionally I do log in to twitter from my phone, though.

More about Socialthing!…
One of the big reasons why I joined is because it lets me see a feed of my flickr contacts’ latest uploads. I find it hard to keep up with everyone’s pics on flickr directly somehow, so this is an easier format for me. I’ve also got Twitter, Plurk (my plurks only), and Last.fm (my scrobbles only) on Socialthing, even though most of those aren’t that helpful since I already know what I’m doing… XD

New Layout… sort of

New design, same old skin… (*^▽^*)

It’s less… compact than the other one, but I think this encourages more reading and less.. uh, squinting. I’ll probably tweak it more as time goes on but it’s satisfactory for now.

Today has been nice and sunny, if chilly. Still not up to my standards for spring, but moving in the right direction anyway…

Mostly been creating 漢字-related mnemosyne flashcards on the computer from Kanji in Context, recently, while trying to keep warm (a.k.a. ensuring blood is circulating to my extremities).

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