The New Stuff

Jaiku: A Better Twitter Alternative?

Jaiku - micro-bloggingTwitter fans may be upset by this, but even though I like Twitter-watching, I don’t tweetr all that much. The feature set doesn’t suit me. I do maintain a Twitter feed and follow about 25 Twitterers, but I find the 140 character limit restrictive. I’m also an RSS evangelist elsewhere, so any new application that allows web feed importing/ aggregation catches my attention.

I’ve recently come across Tumblr, which is more like mini-blogging than the micro-blogging of Twitter. It lets you add images, video, quotes, links, IM chat text, and regular posts. It also lets you import feeds, including your Twitter feed. Except that there are no social features. Soon, but not yet.

Then there’s Jaiku, which like Tumblr lets you import feeds. Jaiku also differs from Twitter in that you can add an image or an icon (from presets) to distinguish your current activities. Your Jaiku stream’s background color can be set as well. It’s all eye candy, sure, but Jaiku is both more customizable and more robust than Twitter. It does not have quite the same feature set as Tumblr in terms of the type of content you can quickly post. So it is micro-blogging like Twitter. However, Jaiku has stronger social features than Twitter, including being able to get “presence” information about your friends: availability, location, calendar – providing they are running Jaiku Mobile on their phone.

Ken Camp, a VoIP blogger who writes a great deal about mobile presence applications,  refers to Jaiku as a lifestream aggregator. (I’m sure someone else made the same comment about another tool, but I can’t find it.) Its tie-in with mobile devices make it more appealing to some people, though you can use it just from a regular web browser. Something for everyone.

Now I should point out that Jaiku, like Twitter, does have a 140 character limit for each message. However, in Jaiku you can add comments to each message. Oddly enough, if you comment in your own message, you can exceed the 140 character limit. What’s really odd, though, is that this comment then shows up in your Jaiku stream completely intact. (You can also comment on other Jaiku users’ messages.) So comments on your Jaiku messages “live” in two places.

It seems to me, then, that Jaiku is a far more robust variation of Twitter. I kind of wish, though, that Tumblr had their social networking features already because my feeling is that it would then be the better of the three choices. Oh, and of course, there’s a Jaiku API, so that if you get the urge, you can come up with your own Jaiku-based applications and mashups.

By the way, if you want to publish a lifestream but don’t feel like signing up for yet more web services, there’s hope. If you’re running a WordPress blog, you can use Elliot Back’s WP Lifestream plugin to create a lifestream on your site. Here is BinaryBonsai’s lifestream, as an example.

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