FriendFeed, Pulse, Jaiku: where the conversation is moving

There is quite a bit of chatter about moving the conversation away from Twitter to FriendFeed. The advocates of this move are not just less known FriendFeed fans but some of the bigger personalities on the Web. Jason Calacanis recently declared that he was shifting his conversation almost exclusively to FriendFeed from Twitter for a week. Leo Laporte confessed that most of his attention is on FriendFeed which is more conducive to conversations than Twitter. I talked a little about this a while ago when I was using Jaiku as my primary status service.

The one big issue with Twitter (aside from his reliable unreliability) is that conversations can be difficult to track and contribute to. Tools like Twhirl help you keep track of replies and respond to posts but there doesn’t seem to be an easy way to view all the replies to a particular post in one place so other people can engage in a conversation both with the original poster but also other commentators. There are a couple services which are far better suited to conversations than Twitter: Jaiku, Pownce, Plaxo Pulse and FriendFeed are just the ones I use (although my focus tends to be more on Pulse and FriendFeed). Each of these services have proper commenting and reply features so you can view the post and the comments about the post and, in the process, track and participate in the conversation. The “@” reply mechanism in Twitter is crude and a bit like shouting out across a room hoping that the person you are replying to hears you and responds. With proper commenting and replies it is more like standing in a circle have a group conversation.

As much as the Twitter loyalists swear by Twitter because everyone seems to be using it, I have to wonder why everyone remains so loyal when there have been a series of outages and crashes and Twitter just doesn’t have the functionality other services do have. Although Twitter has multiple access points, they are not all available on an ongoing basis so using that as a differentiator is disingenuous. That being said, it would be helpful to have more developed mobile clients for FriendFeed and Pulse (Pownce has a pretty good mobile interface and Jaiku is probably has the most developed and integrated mobile application yet – it is just a pity Jaiku is pretty much closed off to new users for the time being). Thankfully popular apps like Twhirl make it really easy to track and contribute to FriendFeed items too so that may well give FriendFeed an edge over the other aggregators even though Pulse has a number of cool commenting and reply features too.

Notwithstanding my reservations about Twitter, I enjoy using it as an easy way to get thoughts out there into the ether. I do prefer to engage in the conversation on Pulse/FriendFeed/Jaiku where my Twitter stream is fed (of the three, FriendFeed picks up my new tweets the fastest, followed by Pulse). I tend to use the aggregators as access points for people who may follow me there to my content so Twitter still has value to me as an important stream of consciousness which feeds into Pulse/FriendFeed/Jaiku. Despite what many say, Twitter is really not a conversation tool. It isn’t designed for that and doesn’t do a very good job managing and representing conversations. What makes a lot more sense is to stimulate conversations on the aggregators.

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Paul
Enthusiast, marketing strategist, writer, and photographer. Passionate about my wife, Gina and #proudDad. Allergic to stupid

20 Comments

  1. Thanks Matt. I have seen some awesome photos taken by other people there, including yourself!!

  2. Interesting take, Paul. I haven’t used the others in any major way, and recently posted on my confusion as to why Twitter is as popular as it is – http://out-think.blogspot.com/2008/06/is-twitter-best-web-20-concept-ever.html“ rel=”nofollow”>Is Twitter the best web 2.0 concept ever devised?

    I look forward to the time when there is one central place where all conversation takes place, but considering the constantly changing and adapting web universe, chances are good we’ll never see that day, as there will always be something new to try.

    After reading this, I might just try those other ones though.

  3. Interesting take, Paul. I haven’t used the others in any major way, and recently posted on my confusion as to why Twitter is as popular as it is – http://out-think.blogspot.com/2008/06/is-twitter-best-web-20-concept-ever.html“ rel=”nofollow”>Is Twitter the best web 2.0 concept ever devised?

    I look forward to the time when there is one central place where all conversation takes place, but considering the constantly changing and adapting web universe, chances are good we’ll never see that day, as there will always be something new to try.

    After reading this, I might just try those other ones though.

  4. Interesting take, Paul. I haven’t used the others in any major way, and recently posted on my confusion as to why Twitter is as popular as it is – http://out-think.blogspot.com/2008/06/is-twitter-best-web-20-concept-ever.html“ rel=”nofollow”>Is Twitter the best web 2.0 concept ever devised?

    I look forward to the time when there is one central place where all conversation takes place, but considering the constantly changing and adapting web universe, chances are good we’ll never see that day, as there will always be something new to try.

    After reading this, I might just try those other ones though.

  5. Interesting take, Paul. I haven't used the others in any major way, and recently posted on my confusion as to why Twitter is as popular as it is – http://out-think.blogspot.com/2008/06/is-twitter-best-web-20-concept-ever.html“ rel=”nofollow”>Is Twitter the best web 2.0 concept ever devised?

    I look forward to the time when there is one central place where all conversation takes place, but considering the constantly changing and adapting web universe, chances are good we'll never see that day, as there will always be something new to try.

    After reading this, I might just try those other ones though.

  6. Hey Paul,

    Great post and I have to agree that Twitter has its shortcomings when it comes to conversation (and not to mention its outages) since yep, you’re right, it isn’t really designed for that purpose. It was designed to be a “What are you doing” tool, which is what I use it for mostly.

    There are great alternatives out there and many for that matter with even better features than Twitter. But to get people to change to use one of these alternatives as their main online presence tool is difficult. I am sure that people who have a huge influence and online presence like Jason Calacanis and Leo Laporte will have some influence to affect change since they have a huge number of followers, but in the end, I personally, don’t want to monitor ANOTHER presence tool and I doubt that current Twitter’ers will change to another tool in one foul swoop very easily.

    Pity though, you’ve tried most of them and there are other tools that are far superior then Twitter.

  7. Hey Paul,

    Great post and I have to agree that Twitter has its shortcomings when it comes to conversation (and not to mention its outages) since yep, you’re right, it isn’t really designed for that purpose. It was designed to be a “What are you doing” tool, which is what I use it for mostly.

    There are great alternatives out there and many for that matter with even better features than Twitter. But to get people to change to use one of these alternatives as their main online presence tool is difficult. I am sure that people who have a huge influence and online presence like Jason Calacanis and Leo Laporte will have some influence to affect change since they have a huge number of followers, but in the end, I personally, don’t want to monitor ANOTHER presence tool and I doubt that current Twitter’ers will change to another tool in one foul swoop very easily.

    Pity though, you’ve tried most of them and there are other tools that are far superior then Twitter.

  8. Hey Paul,

    Great post and I have to agree that Twitter has its shortcomings when it comes to conversation (and not to mention its outages) since yep, you’re right, it isn’t really designed for that purpose. It was designed to be a “What are you doing” tool, which is what I use it for mostly.

    There are great alternatives out there and many for that matter with even better features than Twitter. But to get people to change to use one of these alternatives as their main online presence tool is difficult. I am sure that people who have a huge influence and online presence like Jason Calacanis and Leo Laporte will have some influence to affect change since they have a huge number of followers, but in the end, I personally, don’t want to monitor ANOTHER presence tool and I doubt that current Twitter’ers will change to another tool in one foul swoop very easily.

    Pity though, you’ve tried most of them and there are other tools that are far superior then Twitter.

  9. Hey Paul,

    Great post and I have to agree that Twitter has its shortcomings when it comes to conversation (and not to mention its outages) since yep, you're right, it isn't really designed for that purpose. It was designed to be a “What are you doing” tool, which is what I use it for mostly.

    There are great alternatives out there and many for that matter with even better features than Twitter. But to get people to change to use one of these alternatives as their main online presence tool is difficult. I am sure that people who have a huge influence and online presence like Jason Calacanis and Leo Laporte will have some influence to affect change since they have a huge number of followers, but in the end, I personally, don't want to monitor ANOTHER presence tool and I doubt that current Twitter'ers will change to another tool in one foul swoop very easily.

    Pity though, you've tried most of them and there are other tools that are far superior then Twitter.

  10. Agreed that Twitter is not really a conversational tool … I think that its real value is in the contribution its users make to giving every-one heads-up on interesting stuff (news, products, companies, experiences, whatever). These inform us, and give us direction in exploring the ‘ether’ … particularly if we have been selective in who we follow.

    The BIG problem is I think a technical one … and many users simply don’t understand just how much traffic Twitter is generating as it grows, and connections grow with it. Check out http://twitter.scripting.com/spewage.html … which gives a graphic illustration of the problem.

    ALL Twitter alternatives are going to have this problem, if the application is about getting ALL of your messages to ALL of your contacts/friends. Even Google struggles with this. Don’t believe me … check out http://www.splitbrain.org/projects/gbrain … this Firefox addon was creating Twitter-like traffic problems, which impacted on Google’s own services.

    Bottom line … communication tools might come and go … but REAL conversation still remains 1 on 1 … if its ‘1 to many’ it isn’t really about conversation, is it! Is it?

  11. Agreed that Twitter is not really a conversational tool … I think that its real value is in the contribution its users make to giving every-one heads-up on interesting stuff (news, products, companies, experiences, whatever). These inform us, and give us direction in exploring the ‘ether’ … particularly if we have been selective in who we follow.

    The BIG problem is I think a technical one … and many users simply don’t understand just how much traffic Twitter is generating as it grows, and connections grow with it. Check out http://twitter.scripting.com/spewage.html … which gives a graphic illustration of the problem.

    ALL Twitter alternatives are going to have this problem, if the application is about getting ALL of your messages to ALL of your contacts/friends. Even Google struggles with this. Don’t believe me … check out http://www.splitbrain.org/projects/gbrain … this Firefox addon was creating Twitter-like traffic problems, which impacted on Google’s own services.

    Bottom line … communication tools might come and go … but REAL conversation still remains 1 on 1 … if its ‘1 to many’ it isn’t really about conversation, is it! Is it?

  12. Agreed that Twitter is not really a conversational tool … I think that its real value is in the contribution its users make to giving every-one heads-up on interesting stuff (news, products, companies, experiences, whatever). These inform us, and give us direction in exploring the ‘ether’ … particularly if we have been selective in who we follow.

    The BIG problem is I think a technical one … and many users simply don’t understand just how much traffic Twitter is generating as it grows, and connections grow with it. Check out http://twitter.scripting.com/spewage.html … which gives a graphic illustration of the problem.

    ALL Twitter alternatives are going to have this problem, if the application is about getting ALL of your messages to ALL of your contacts/friends. Even Google struggles with this. Don’t believe me … check out http://www.splitbrain.org/projects/gbrain … this Firefox addon was creating Twitter-like traffic problems, which impacted on Google’s own services.

    Bottom line … communication tools might come and go … but REAL conversation still remains 1 on 1 … if its ‘1 to many’ it isn’t really about conversation, is it! Is it?

  13. There is no denying that Twitter is immensely popular and a great number of people’s networks are using Twitter. What I just don’t understand is why this continues to be the case with Twitter’s clear faults. Virtually every set of updates includes a complaint about Twitter’s instability or some other failure and yet people cling to it.

    I don’t buy the argument that people don’t want to monitor yet another service or that everyone is using Twitter so why change? Twitter wasn’t always around and probably won’t always be around. People will move to a new service. Granted it is a fantastic service and provides a simple way to publish short posts and even engage each other in unthreaded and difficult to track conversations but Jaiku was there first and FriendFeed and Pulse can do pretty much the same thing. Given the incentive Twhirl would support Pulse too.

    Anyway, this rant is probably more akin to me shouting into a strong wind. It isn’t going to change the wind’s direction and nobody will really hear me anyway. Just thought I’d get it out there anyway. At some point in the future the trend will shift away from Twitter. It is the way Web services work. It is just a question of when and where it all goes.

  14. There is no denying that Twitter is immensely popular and a great number of people’s networks are using Twitter. What I just don’t understand is why this continues to be the case with Twitter’s clear faults. Virtually every set of updates includes a complaint about Twitter’s instability or some other failure and yet people cling to it.

    I don’t buy the argument that people don’t want to monitor yet another service or that everyone is using Twitter so why change? Twitter wasn’t always around and probably won’t always be around. People will move to a new service. Granted it is a fantastic service and provides a simple way to publish short posts and even engage each other in unthreaded and difficult to track conversations but Jaiku was there first and FriendFeed and Pulse can do pretty much the same thing. Given the incentive Twhirl would support Pulse too.

    Anyway, this rant is probably more akin to me shouting into a strong wind. It isn’t going to change the wind’s direction and nobody will really hear me anyway. Just thought I’d get it out there anyway. At some point in the future the trend will shift away from Twitter. It is the way Web services work. It is just a question of when and where it all goes.

  15. There is no denying that Twitter is immensely popular and a great number of people's networks are using Twitter. What I just don't understand is why this continues to be the case with Twitter's clear faults. Virtually every set of updates includes a complaint about Twitter's instability or some other failure and yet people cling to it.

    I don't buy the argument that people don't want to monitor yet another service or that everyone is using Twitter so why change? Twitter wasn't always around and probably won't always be around. People will move to a new service. Granted it is a fantastic service and provides a simple way to publish short posts and even engage each other in unthreaded and difficult to track conversations but Jaiku was there first and FriendFeed and Pulse can do pretty much the same thing. Given the incentive Twhirl would support Pulse too.

    Anyway, this rant is probably more akin to me shouting into a strong wind. It isn't going to change the wind's direction and nobody will really hear me anyway. Just thought I'd get it out there anyway. At some point in the future the trend will shift away from Twitter. It is the way Web services work. It is just a question of when and where it all goes.

  16. I have never understood Twitter’s popularity either in the face of all these other, more conversation-oriented services. I suppose it’s because Twitter became popular in the States first, and gathered enough user mass that people are unwilling to leave it now even when other options present themselves?

    Or perhaps secretly, in their heart of hearts, people would rather yell about themselves in a crowded room than really listen to what anyone else is saying? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  17. I have never understood Twitter’s popularity either in the face of all these other, more conversation-oriented services. I suppose it’s because Twitter became popular in the States first, and gathered enough user mass that people are unwilling to leave it now even when other options present themselves?

    Or perhaps secretly, in their heart of hearts, people would rather yell about themselves in a crowded room than really listen to what anyone else is saying? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  18. I have never understood Twitter’s popularity either in the face of all these other, more conversation-oriented services. I suppose it’s because Twitter became popular in the States first, and gathered enough user mass that people are unwilling to leave it now even when other options present themselves?

    Or perhaps secretly, in their heart of hearts, people would rather yell about themselves in a crowded room than really listen to what anyone else is saying? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  19. I have never understood Twitter's popularity either in the face of all these other, more conversation-oriented services. I suppose it's because Twitter became popular in the States first, and gathered enough user mass that people are unwilling to leave it now even when other options present themselves?

    Or perhaps secretly, in their heart of hearts, people would rather yell about themselves in a crowded room than really listen to what anyone else is saying? ๐Ÿ˜‰

What do you think?

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