Blogging about microblogging
As you may have noticed, I like Twitter. I don’t actually have many people to interact with on it, but that doesn’t stop me from merrily tweeting away whatever random nonsense wanders into my mind, or replying to the few that I follow, or annoying@RCMurphy. (It’s the secret to happiness) There’s a sort of simple joy to trying to cut ideas down to 140 characters which appeals to me somehow. It’s a bit like haiku, I suppose.
Twitter isn’t the microblogging service out there, and last night I began experimenting with another one called Identi.ca. At first glance Identica is simply a Twitter clone, but looking deeper… well ok, it’s still a Twitter clone, but there’s more going on and it has a lot going for it.
One of the first differences I noticed was the groups. Identica allows users to create groups which can be joined just like following a user. Groups work like mentions, or hashtags that you subscribe to, using “!” instead of “@” or “#”. So if you join the Star Wars group you’ll see every message that anyone posts with “!starwars” in it. It’s a brilliant idea that Twitter should copy, the only potential pitfall is that with Twitter’s large number of users a popular group might get flooded.
Probably the very first difference from Twitter was the language. If you use Twitter, you know that it has its own lingo; tweet, retweet, tweeps, etc. Many terms are the same, for example RT is used the same way as on Twitter. Many are different, instead of a “tweet” you send a “dent”. Which brings to mind such fun phrases as “I’m live-denting the car show”. The lingo feels a little forced at times, like most slang reinvented from brand names (compare “tivo” with “DVR”, for example) but it’s generally understandable.
Identica is open source through and through. an Open Network Service that uses the OpenMicroBlogging protocol. Even your own posts are under a Creative Commons License (I forget which one), you must agree to this during account creation. It’s allegedly compatible with several other services, with more to come, but since I haven’t really explored that part much I’m not going to speculate.
In general, I think I actually prefer Identica to Twitter. It has neat features, and I really like the groups. It seems to be fairly decentralized, which means on the plus side that you don’t see the fail whale, but on the minus side that sometimes dents arrive out of order. The community is less than half a million, tiny compared to Twitter, and in general is very friendly and welcoming. There’s a nostalgic feeling to it, too, it reminds me of the old days when the Internet was the domain of technogeeks. (and makes me feel a little old & obsolete)
I’ll use Identica, and promote it a bit, too. But Twitter will still be my primary microblogger. Because while I like, maybe even kinda prefer Identica, Twitter is where everyone is.
That said, after I publish this I’m off to check out other microblogging services. Identica mentions Jaiku, Pownce, and Plurk in its FAQ, and I want to see what they’re like. For someone who rarely makes an effort to talk to other people, I sure like to have a lot of ways to do it!
That’s all for now, but I should have another post up late tonight or sometime tomorrow about the bizarre challenges I’m facing trying to write fanfic for a show that I’m not actually a fan of.