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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