I am suffering from microblogging fragmentation. Let me explain… as everybody else I am on Twitter (@andreaskrohn), but I am mostly active in Jaiku (@andreaskrohn) since that is where the local Swedish web community hangs out. Lately the Swedish microblogging service Bloggy.se (@andreaskrohn – do you see a pattern?) has been growing, and right now it seems like the Swedish geekocracy are moving from Jaiku to Bloggy. This means that I have 3 microblogging services to spread my attention between – Twitter, Jaiku and Bloggy. Pownce is no more and Plurk and the rest I am ignoring (btw, I am @andreaskrohn there as well, as you can see my imagination is limited).
If featureset and usability would decide my choice then Jaiku is the winner, but of course community is the ruling factor. Since the communities I want to be part of will continue to be spread out over many microblogging services (maybe even more so once Jaiku goes open source), I think I need to be active on several services for a foreseeable future.
Aggregated Consumption is not the same as Communication
There are many good services for consuming the posts from all my contacts across several microblogging services. FriendFeed is a great example, that also adds a lot of neat features (again, I am andreaskrohn). Some desktop clients also let me consume messages from several services, Twhirl lets me subscribe to posts both from Twitter and Jaiku for example. Jaiku let me subscribe to RSS feeds, so that is a way for me to get my posts from other services into Jaiku. Bloggy has the very nice feature of letting me input my Twitter and Jaiku data and then all my posts from those services are also shown in my Bloggy feed, as well as all my Bloggy posts being posted to Jaiku and Twitter.
All this solutions do have a common problem though, and that is that they are missing what is key to microblogging – it is all about communication and communication is a two way game. From Twhirl I can only post to Twitter and not to Jaiku. My comments in FriendFeed can not be looped back into Twitter/Jaiku/Bloggy. From Bloggy I can read Jaiku posts, and I can post to Jaiku, but not participate in a threaded conversation on Jaiku. So consumption is not a problem, but communication across several services efficiently is.
By now I am sure several of my readers are thinking “skip all other services and just use Twitter and stop complaining”. This might be a good strategy if I only wanted to communicate with the Twitter crowd, but belive it or not there is acctually a world outside Twitter. Also, I am not complaning (not so far at least), just explaining a problem. A problem that is solvable!
Who are we Communicating with?
So what is the solution? As I see it the best solution would be a microblogging client that can do two-way communication with several microblogging services. So how would this client work if I could dream up a whishlist… To get to that wishlist let’s first think about how we divide up the people we communicate with, and personally I come up with these criteria:
- Language – people that do not understand Swedish do not want to read my Swedish posts, and most Swedes have a limited interest in my (admittedly very few) spanish Twitter posts. Almost everyone that follow me in any microblogging service could be interested in my posts in English.
- Geography – to a lesser degree than language geography also plays a role. It is of very limited interest for me to know that a friend in San Fransisco wants to gather people up to meet in a bar this evening, at the same time that same friend is probably not that interested in what train to Stockholm I might be on.
- Social group – almost the most important criteria. By “social group” I mean any group of people with similar interests or ties. It might be my family, it might be web developers, it might be fellow mashupoholics. This is the way we mostly group people in our lifes. My brother is not interested in, and can not answer, a question about SQL that I might have. The same way my developer contacts might not care about where my family is going to celebrate christmas.
- Individuals – we all want to communicate directly with certain people.
All microblogging services and clients address some of these criteria . Groups can be handled by Jaiku channels for example. You can communicate to individuals via the “@” notation or by directo messaging. By posting Swedish posts to Jaiku and Bloggy, and English posts to Twitter the language criteria is somewhat dealt with. But this is not a natural workflow, and it sprouts conversations about the same subject in many different places.
Whishlist for the perfect microblogging client
The perfect microblogging client would allow me to communicate across services in a fluent way. It would detect what language I am writing my messages in and only send it out to the people that understand that language, no matter what microblogging service they are using. Geography and social groups should also be handled seemlessly across microblogging bounderies. It would be able to aggregate all comments made to one message into one place to create one and only one joined conversation (minirant: why oh why don’t Twitter have threaded conversations?). If I can continue dreaming the perfect microbloggin client would not only contain microblogs but also the good old chat networks – MSN, Jabber etc – where I still have quite a few contacts. My hope is that this already exists, and that it just have passed me by, if so please let me know!
Faithful Digitalistic readers might remember that I ranted about this almost a year ago in the post The Need to Mashup Twitter, Pownce and Jaiku, but since nothing much has changed I took upon me to rant once more. Maybe in a year I will acctually do something about it myself, or maybe I will just write another rant 🙂