As you might have noticed from the right column of the blog, there is now a "currently doing" module showing my latest 'tweets'. Yeah, right, it's powered by twitter.com, which is the latest rage in the social networking sphere of the internet since some time.
Twitter is a service allowing so called micro-blogging, which basically means a blog allowing only for messages shorter than 140 characters in the case of twitter. These messages are then published on your twitter-site (e.g. http://www.twitter.com/amette and classically available via RSS (the module on the right is realized through twitters API and not RSS). Nothing special so far, except for adding a limitation to a normal blog. The interesting thing is: it is directly connected to cell phone SMS and instant messaging services! Now the limitation to 140 characters even makes sense.
Twitter advertises their service on their homepage as follows: "Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?" Combining this testimony with the possibility to include the tweets - as they are called - in your blog, it was a no-brainer to include it like here to create something like the Facebook status-update. One intermediate step closer to a DiSo-site. (Oh, DiSo Project, right, one thing I 'forgot' to blog about - but well, lemme just tell you that it is exactly what I have been thinking about for three years and that it will be the next big thing on the net! Not necessarily big in terms of monetization or such, but big in terms of paradigm-shift!)
As with any technology though, twitter quickly evolved differently than its founders might have thought. And I don't mean the usual 'any new technology is first used for pr0n distribution' meme. No, people are having public conversations on twitter. It's like blogs with trackbacks on amphetamines. And this actually makes my concept of using it as an activity stream on my blog pretty useless... I mean, I tried to follow Stowe Boyd for two days - and he's fuckin' badly getting on my nerves already! It's not necessarily his fault, but in the end I only receive his side of hundreds of conversations - which makes anything he says almost totally worthless! And no, I won't begin to follow his hundred followers he is communicating with to get the big picture. There's something wrong with twitter, it didn't grow with the needs of its customers. It may be a good (if not even awesome) solution for the people in one clump of the social network as they all follow each other's tweets and don't get messages ripped out of context. But that concept just doesn't scale. I might have my clump of people on twitter and we can leverage its use just as well, but for getting some insight into the thinking of other people - it just sucks! Well, on the other hand it might just as well be those people's usage of twitter... at least this time I know the spammers by name and can opt out. ;)
Another interesting service is Jaiku, which provides micro-blogging with added aggregation of activity streams from various social networking sites. This comes much closer to my idea of the usage in my blog's right column. Jaiku was bought by Google lately and since then the finnish company's (bet those guys know what a Play-Off Beard is ;) ) service is invitation and waiting list only. I signed up and now am waiting, let's see when I will get in.
In the end it's the users who decide how a service gets used, but by design one surely can influence the usage. I strongly hope for Jaiku that they don't try to be the second Twitter, they should find their own way. They have the added benefit of aggregating activity from other sites and still allow for self-typed messages. They have a good starting position for competing with FriendFeed and twitter at the same time. Google so far fucked anything social up, so I fear a bit for my finnish colleagues. On the other hand, I think twitter should emphasize on the communication and make it more easy to follow. I love to use it by Jabber, but I mostly get senseless spam - some stuff though sounds interesting. And when I see an answer to someone I don't follow, why not allow me to send an IM-message like "unfollowedGuy 3", giving me the last 3 tweets of him so I can get the big picture?
EDIT: Ok, got a FriendFeed account now as they allow it. Set up four different social sites, I have an account on, in about five minutes and got used to it quickly. No twitter-like texting, but I can include my twitter posts in my friendfeed... Dunno, if I will need Jaiku any more, if I should get in some time - Google really manages to fuck stuff up... wait? Didn't I mention something like that? :P