Quirky Plurk: another microblogging time sink

The other evening I started to receive unsolicited (aka spam) requests to hook up with people on Plurk. Spam might be too strong a word since the requests were coming from people with whom I'm already connected through other services.

Plurk

The other evening I started to receive unsolicited (aka spam) requests to hook up with people on Plurk. Spam might be too strong a word since the requests were coming from people with whom I'm already connected through other services.

I've had my head down with and turned off both Twitter and FriendFeed while I get work done so hadn't heard about this latest desktop toy. Being a sucker for punishment I had to give it a go. In its current iteration, I wish I hadn't bothered. Plurk is a quirky time sink that will struggle to find acceptance in any business environment.

Duncan Riley over at Inquisitr describes the timeline presentation interface:

The layout shakes up the staid microblogging format Twitter popularized, and yet it may take some getting use to as I’m not a huge fan so far.

Check out the image above to see what he/I mean. Chris Dalby found an entertaining use case, noting that one user has started a sort of chain story. Amusing, but of almost zero value to me as a business person. Unless I could find a use for effectively running the equivalent of GTalk in a dedicated browser window that includes the other paraphernalia that comes with Plurk. Why would I do that?

I see other problems with this timeline arrangement. Novel though it may be, any business use would require the immediate creation of groups (cliques in Plurk parlance) in order to manage the potential firehose. Robert Scoble, with his current body count of 495 'friends' will almost certainly hate the mess it makes of his screen. I'm not alone in my thinking. Craig Cmehil believes this is a problem that will turn people away.

The timeline doesn't render with FireFox 3 RC1 running on my MacBook Pro. I had to fire up Safari before it started to make sense. Regardless of what you think about Firefox's latest browser iteration, that's a big black mark in my book.

The other main problem with Plurk is its waste of screen real estate for the remainder of what it does which is to provide what I call admin services. It has a weird sort of rating system that ascribes 'Karma' points to users. How that's calculated is anyone's guess but seems to have something to do with the frequency of posting and whether you invite others to join Plurk.

But its biggest drawback is the requirement to stay within the service in order to know what's going on. That makes it an immediate time sink. It is possible to get updates via GTalk but that reduces its designed utility to near zero. Without an API (there doesn't appear to be one) against which clients like Twhirl can be developed, users are unlikely to give it more than scant attention.

Stuart Schroeder's ringing endorsement for Plurk has attracted plenty of comparative comment about Twitter. That's inevitable at a time when Twitter is attracting all the wrong kind of attention. Even so, I have to think about services from a business perspective and right now, Plurk is a fail.