I joined Twitter in February after coming across the widget running on several of the blogs I had visited researching Lifestreaming. I’m a sucker for trying pretty much any interesting sounding new web technology so I created an account to see what it was about. Once the account was created, I was dropped on my homepage with a blank form asking me what I was doing. I began to scratch my head like the many users I have come across since then that are confused by the popularity of this site. So I clicked on the public timeline and began reading the posts and clicking on the profiles of the users submitting them and it began to make a little more sense. To me it appeared to be an open micro-posting application that people used in various ways.
I had already been considering using the asides functionality in WordPress. I wanted the ability to create micro-posts or links to content with short commentary. I decided to start using Twitter because it would offer this functionality along with the ability to be a stand-alone application exposing me to a new community of users as well as an additional commercially popular component to add to my Lifestream.
After using it for several days though, my thoughts on the added community benefits actually waned a bit. Without tagging, searching, or other tools to find users it appeared more like an extension for people that already belonged to an online clique. I also really started to see the meaningless usage of the system. I could care less about chronicling my boring daily lunch consumption much less think anyone would be interested in reading it. Perhaps if you stated “eating a peanut butter & jelly sandwich for lunch” you might elicit a comment from Homer Simpson expounding “yummmmy….peanut butter”. But alas you can’t comment on Twitter anyways so your meaningless blurbs such as “driving home”, “staring at ceiling”, and “picking nose” all go uncontested and wastefully filling up storage on the servers. The only way I’d post what I had for lunch is perhaps if I had eaten Fugu at a sushi bar and was fearful of losing my life.
Then I recently discovered Jaiku. This had the micro-post functionality, along with the ability to comment, and included Lifestreaming (they call it presence streaming) functionality all neatly wrapped in a better interface than Twitter. I recently reviewed Jaiku and feel that with some tweaks to the functionality, release of an API, and widget / badge with an ounce of personality, the site will truly distance itself as the much better option to Twitter. Lack of an API will no doubt hold it back from the techie crowd that has adopted Twitter. I believe the latest adoption spurt of Twitter has roots in the API which has made all the plugins, widgets, applications and mashup sites being released possible. Of course the buzz and award at SXSW didn’t hurt.
Jaiku had been running realatively below the radar until Leo Laporte announced his defection to Jaiku from Twitter over confusion between the Twitter name and his TWiT podcast. Leo was one of the most popular Twitter users and is a very high profile web personality. He has a very dedicated group of followers, many of which who will probably follow him to Jaiku . This will definitely help them gain exposure and provide a much needed boost in competition at this critical stage to what was a one horse race.
This takes me to my thoughts on the evolution of blogging based around the concept of these two services. I think in the near future we are in store for more vertical niche based service sites like these to be released with robust feature sets accessible via API. I think you will start to see a shift in blogging platforms using tools that access the API’s of these new services to power blogs. I think a shift is currently occurring where you already see many people opting to use widgets instead of platform specific plugins. Along with the development community releasing great tools that seamlessly integrate the functionality and content from these external sites, it would appear to be the next progression blogging. Come to think of it, looking at the plugins used for my blog yields ones specific for utilizing functionality from third party sites Twitter, Google Analytics, MyBlogLog, Divshare, BF2S.com, Flickr, Adsense, Amazon, and Technorati. So perhaps the future is now. Here’s hoping that with the recent release of the Jaiku API that a WordPress plugin will be available soon.