I’ve fallen off the Twitter bandwagon. At first I stopped twittering in righteous indignation at the amount of time that the site goes down, or shuts down services because it’s overloaded. If I’m using something to stay in touch with people, I want it to work reliably. Otherwise, what’s the point?
I have an account on Pownce, and I thought I might use that as my Twitter alternative: a place to post short things that aren’t quite ready-for-blog-time, and to see what my friends are up to. It’s fine for that, except there’s not a critical mass of my curent friends there. Using Pownce felt like being the first one at a party, standing around holding a drink and waiting for everyone else to show up — and feeling sure that everyone has decided to go instead to another party across town (or stay at the party (Twitter) that they were already at).
So I didn’t use anything for a while. This turned out to be a lonely but brilliant idea. Lonely, because I was disconnected from the on-going conversations that everyone is continuing to have, doing perfectly fine without my interjections. Brilliant, because not being part of these conversations freed up oodles of time during the work day, time that I used to get real, paying work done.
And it turned out that, while those missed conversations were fun, I was still able to keep in enough touch with people to maintain friendships and feel sufficiently connected.
Still and all, I missed having an outlet for small observations, and I wished for a way to keep a little bit in the loop. I tried just dipping into Twitter and jumping back out, but the glitches and outages still seem to be going on. And the conversations are addictive; I don’t think my willpower is strong enough for small sips at the firehose.
I noticed a few people talking about Plurk. Yet another social networking site? Yes. I like its interface, especially how easy it is to see a thread of conversations (a big problem in Twitter). Plurk also doesn’t promise to be instantaneous, so it feels different from Twitter and instant messaging. The odd cartoony graphics are intriguing.
I’m especially interested in how they’ve integrated a concept of karma. The more you do with Plurk, the more karma you build; you ca also lose karma in various ways. The more karma you have, the more features you have access to. This matches one of the important principles for building a good social network (one which I first heard about from Brad King): No free rides. If you want to play, you have to contribute.
(Now that I think about it, Plurk karma is kind of like one of the rules of Fight Club: If this is your first time at Fight Club, you have to fight. Interesting.)
Anyway, one big way to build Plurk karma is to invite others to join. So…