Jun 17, 2008

[Blogging] Plurk is Not the New Twitter

Flickr: daysies - Plurk
by daysies.

Over the weekend I finally succumbed to peer pressure and signed up for Plurk, the latest addition to the ever-growing world of micro-blogging services around the web today. Naturally people have begun to compare this new contender to the likes of Twitter, Jaiku, Pownce and what have you but now that I've had a fair amount of time to play and test the service, I don't really see it as a "Twitter-Killer" as people like to call it.

I can't blame people for naturally deciding it's time to move on from Twitter given their recent slew of service issues ranging from frequent outages to loss of all IM-related functions. As a long-time Twitter user myself, I can't help but share in the frustration and in that sense of vulnerability we feel when something we rely on or have become accustomed to fails us consistently.

However this doesn't mean I'm ready to totally leave Twitter for Plurk.

Twitter quickly came to fame some time back because of the novelty and originality of its core concept - micro-blogging. Instead of taking the time to compose an entry like this one, Twitter worked on the principle that people just didn't always have time to compose lengthy entries and it would be more efficient to have them focus their thoughts into a limited number of characters. Integrate this with mobile phone services and you get a quick easy way to send out updates about your life.

Twitter was always meant as a wide-ranging broadcast service and didn't originally focus on direct one-on-one interaction - the whole convention of using the "@" symbol to "direct" messages at other users was an afterthought brought about by consistent behaviors of the users themselves. For me, Twitter always felt predominantly one-way and not so much as highly interactive and it did that job well. Of course when Twitter started experiencing its outages and lost IM functions, it felt like a lot of the convenience of the service was lost since they could no longer support all the user activity.

Plurk has a different concept presented in a highly playful manner. Whereas Twitter was highly focused on the broadcast (and accompanying Google indexing), Plurk's claim to fame can be found more in interactivity with other users especially with it's web interface built around visualizing your updates and allowing users to reply specifically to other updates and grouping them together.

Thus oftentimes, Plurk feels more like a chat room with a more visual presentation. I find that the niche that Plurk fulfills better addresses the chat / forum market since it makes the exchanging of comments and sharing of media easy and somewhat fun. Built around a supposed Karma system that acts as a carrot for users to update more and invite others to the service, it's highly social in nature and will probably work well in the weeks and months to come. The true test comes to how they handle a much larger userbase like Twitter does.

Thus I think that Plurk isn't really meant to replace Twitter, but it does serve another purpose and a completely different market. Both services are viable in their own right and have the potential to go fairly far. Given the recent progress Twitter has been making in addressing their service issues and bringing things back online, we may yet see a return of increased activity on the Twitter sphere again.
Zemanta Pixie


  1. yeah, there's good and bad in both twitter and plurk.

    I think twitter is best for mobile micro-blogging while plurk is more of a social time waster.

  2. I definitely agree - the amount of time that you need to invest into Plurk just to keep up is next to insane. I wonder if they'll ever manage to effectively monetize this.

  3. I love both for very different reasons...a friend compared them this way...Twitter is the convention, Plurk is the party...quite so! What you said about different niches is key, I think.

  4. Make no mistake, Plurk is definitely MEANT to replace Twitter (by the creators). It's also trying to upset FriendFeed which is the current heir apparent. As soon as both have functional API's (FriendFeed does, Plurk currently doesn't) we'll really see some progress as the tools that really make Twitter useful (AIR Apps, iPhone Apps etc) will start to arrive for both services.

    My money is on FreindFeed, there's no reason for aggregation not to be 'built in' to any of these platforms.

  5. @sammysunshine:

    yeah, I hate it that every new development has to fully replace another when in fact the differences between them tend to make them stand apart.


    I don't see how FriendFeed is all that useful apart from being an aggregator. The interactivity and commenting options just don't seem as dynamic as services like Plurk at this point, although it is useful from a promotion perspective.