Ugh! I am tempted to turn the recurring Twitter/Jaiku/Pownce debate into a “better than” discussion and while this may be the case in some respects, on the whole the decision whether to use one (or none) of these services comes down to your choice. Paul Walsh made the following comment a little earlier this evening:
Jaiku = betamax. Good luck to anyone who wants to support it as a result of feeling sorry and/or feeling like they’ve been deserted
That sparked a debate/backlash typical of any comparison between two or more services people are pretty passionate about. Paul challenged me a while back to stop punting Jaiku as better than Twitter without something a little more persuasive than “Jaiku is better than Twitter” (or something like that) and he has a point. In some ways I don’t like choice because I tend to have some difficulty deciding on something. My worst is walking into a restaurant and finding too many open tables. My wife tends to take over from there and makes the decision which table to sit down at. Sounds really silly but this is one of my “quirks”.
Anyway, Twitter and Jaiku are both great services I use and both are comparable in many ways. They also differ in important respects. Ultimately it comes down to which you find yourself using more often. I’ll just share with you my reasons for preferring Jaiku over Twitter at the moment, if you are interested. Before I get to that though, I just want to point out that this is not intended to be a balanced analysis of the features, pros and cons of both services and you have probably noticed that I haven’t mentioned Pownce’s benefits or the alternatives to all three being Facebook status messages and other microblogging services like Tumblr. That stuff just complicates things far to much for me now.
I use Jaiku on the Web (through my Web browser), using IM and on my mobile phone using the Series 60 mobile application. Another possible interface is the mobile site at http://m.jaiku.com which I have bookmarked but don’t really use. By far my preferred means of interacting with the Jaiku service is the mobile application and that is mainly because I almost always have my phone with me (I am using a Nokia N73).
Twitter is great for me because so many of the people I am in fairly regular contact with use it so an important advantage of Twitter is that more of my core community is there and given that these services are community orientated, I don’t see myself moving off Twitter altogether any time soon (at least until I persuade all my contacts to move with me and that probably won’t happen and I probably won’t try that either). That being said, I find it difficult to track conversations on Twitter because the responses to posts are not threaded. You can go back and look at people’s responses and I imagine email notifications would also help (although that would increase email or feed traffic way more than I could handle) but it is a bit of a mess. On the other hand, Jaiku makes it really easy to track comments on posts and there is no limit on the length of those comments (posts themselves are still limited to 140/160 characters). I also get emails only for replies to posts and that is manageable for me.
I also have a bias towards more Eurocentric services so Jaiku, as a Finnish service, works well for me. I know Twitter is used internationally but this is just one of those “quirky” things I do. A big plus in Jaiku’s favour is its feed aggregation service. That is important to me because I often use my Jaiku page as a kind of home page because almost all of my content is aggregated there in my Jaiku stream. I also love looking at other people’s content as it streams into their Jaiku streams. I get a nice overview of what people are doing on the Web and that makes me more inclined to respond to something of theirs or to add them as a contact and follow them.
Two other features on Jaiku float my boat. I dig the location/presence based functionality in the mobile app. I don’t quite understand how it fits into the greater scheme of things but I enjoy using it anyway. I don’t use the functionality that tells me if there are nearby users because, quite frankly, I don’t think there are many and Bluetooth switching on and off will probably drain my battery. I also really like the way my contacts list integrates into my address book on my phone. It just makes the Jaiku a bigger part of my phone and my mobile life. I would really get a kick out of Jaiku integration with Apple Address Book if that ever happened.
Jaiku has added new functionality to its site that improves my ability to find people I want to connect to and I appreciate that added functionality. I would still like to be able to search by country and find more South Africans using Jaiku.
I don’t really believe that Jaiku is better than Twitter. I prefer Jaiku because of the reasons I have stated above and because it is more convenient for me with the mobile app on my phone. I still use Twitter when I want to communicate something to my contacts who don’t use Jaiku and who prefer Twitter and I sometimes find myself spending more time on Twitter than Jaiku. Then again, my Twitter feed routes into my Jaiku stream so all that stuff comes through eventually (the lag from Twitter to Jaiku still bugs me). I haven’t mentioned Jaiku channels yet and I am not going to get into that here. I have talked about Jaiku channels previously and I think they are fantastic. Jaiku channels are topical versions of personal Jaiku streams. They are chatrooms, back channels and topical aggregators. They are cool tools and I enjoy using them for different purposes.
So to answer Paul Walsh (in a way), these are the reasons why I prefer Jaiku over Twitter. They may work for you (and anyone else who reads this) and they may not. They do work for me and that is what counts. I am going to keep using both Jaiku and Twitter for as long as there are people using both services I want to remain in contact with and who I find really interesting.