When microblogging keeps you cozy (aka "My holiday with Plurk and Kwippy")

A quick holiday evaluation of microblogging services Plurk, Kwippy and even Identi.ca. Invites for the Kwippy closed beta are available via TalkBack.
Written by Jennifer Leggio, Contributor on

While Cool Tools would've provided great ideas for Fourth of July excitement, my stomach bug had other ideas. So I decided to make the most of my time on the couch and spend some time poking around the microblogging world, extend beyond my Twitter loyalty and give other services a fair shake.

My hot button issue as of late has been around Plurk. I futzed with Plurk a little bit again this morning and then started what turned out to be a bit of a controversial conversation on FriendFeed, which also got the attention of the Plurk team. After a quick email exchange with Plurk, I still don't get it. Plurk is "cute." Plurk also awards karma points for active users, which some have said turns microblogging into a sport versus a discussion. A friend even said the karma system on Plurk is familiar to the not-so-well-revered karma system on Slashdot. The karma thing is just a little nit. My main concern is usability.

The big Plurk differentiator that its fiercely loyal fans rave about is its threaded conversations, which allows users to contain conversations and invite more than just their immediate followers. An unofficial Plurk feature called "Plurkshops," according to Plurk advocate Mack Collier, allows users to set a time and date for themed conversations.

Microblogging is supposed to be quick, simple and intuitive. Doesn't this lack of usability defeat the purpose?

Here's the (major) downside to Plurk's threaded conversations: there's no way to track your conversations or remember the ones in which you have participated without either bookmarking each one or doing a search for your screen name or a key word. Microblogging is supposed to be quick, simple and intuitive. Doesn't this lack of usability defeat the purpose?

Enter a service that may very well get that -- and is already doing that. That's Kwippy, currently in closed beta, which is also cute. I hadn't even heard of Kwippy until last night when I was on FriendFeed and saw Duncan Riley's blog on the topic. Duncan was nice enough to send me an invite and I played around with the service myself. While there might be some scaling issues (which Duncan addresses in his blog) Kwippy offers three great features:

  • There's no 140 character limit (which, admittedly, could present some negatives)
  • It offers a simple interface quite similar to Twitter's yet ALSO provides the ability for threaded conversations
  • It NOTIFIES you when someone responds to a thread in which you've posted or one of your threads. No guessing, no overwhelming keyword searching, etc.

At first glance Kwippy appears to combine the positive values of both Twitter and Plurk (I can already see "Kwipshops" making a splash). It's not a killer, but I do think that if it can overcome some back-end issues and truly listen to its users during its beta it could be a great contender for both personal and business communications.

Oh, I also dug into the newly touted "Twitter killer" Identi.ca. What makes Identi.ca unique is its open source model that will, potentially, allow for distributed microblogging. Currently its anything but feature rich so it needs a bit more time to bake. Keep your eyes on this one if only for the open source element.

While Kwippy is in closed beta they are giving each of the beta users a whopping 25 invitations to hand out. I figured I'd save these for my loyal Feeds readers so leave your email address in a TalkBack if you want an invite. You can also email me or ask me via Twitter if you so wish.

Oh, and you can find me on Plurk here. I haven't completely given up on it but it's going to take a little bit of usability improvement for me to be 100 percent sold on its value, or even more in line with the main focus of this blog, suggest it as a tool for enterprises.

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