To Plurk or Not to Plurk?

Date June 3, 2008

Plurk

I spent much of a whole day playing within Plurk. Yes, it has quite the peculiar name. When I first registered and began using the service I found it to be rather buggy. I got a lot of “File Not Found” errors and even the style sheets wouldn’t load properly. After a bit of clicking around and fidgeting with the browser, all things became right in the world.

What is Plurk?
Well it’s similar to Twitter in that it’s a micro-blogging social network. You can send out messages that are 140 characters or less. It’s your choice if you want to use a qualifier “kimfenolio IS writing about Plurk” or choose not to “kimfenolio: I’m writing a post to encourage others to micro blog.” Using the @ function like you do in Twitter works the same in Plurk only it creates a direct link without the @ sign having to appear in the final message. They’ve even supplied you with a list of safe Plurking habits.

How is it Different?
There are a number of things that set it aside from Twitter. First is the interactivity. You and your friends have the ability to comment directly on a message that you Plurk. The really neat thing is that if you have that message open while someone else responds you can see their reply appear right before your eyes.

Alerts
You are continually appraised of new Plurks and new updates with an alert box in the bottom left-hand corner of your timeline. It is unobtrusive, no sounds and no pop-up windows for it. It will simply appear when there’s something new for you to check up on. I will admit that with multiple people responding to Plurks, it certainly gets old after you have to keep going back to each message time after time. I suppose that’s why on the alert’s menu there’s a “Mark all as read” option.

Visual Timeline
While I’m talking about the timeline, let’s expand on that for a bit. The timeline runs from right to left. Updates appear as if they’re almost floating in the sky based on time. If you hover your mouse over an update it’ll highlight the time at the bottom of your timeline. Clicking on an update will expand it so that you can read the entire update as well as any responses. You can also view the mobile timeline if the visual timeline is too conspicuous for you. Either I don’t like this visual timeline or it takes a lot of getting used to.

Friend Filtering
I can create “Cliques” and add people. Once I do this I can send out a Plurk to just the users in that specific group. Apparently there’s a way to filter incoming messages from just those in that group but I haven’t found it available to me just yet. The only thing I don’t like about adding folks to the clique is that you have to type their names rather than selecting people with check boxes in a list.

Friend, No Need to Follow
Friends can be friends but you don’t have to follow their timeline. I really like this feature. Someone asked me why I would want to be friends with someone but not read what they have to say. There are folks that I’m friends with where I want to see what they have to say some of the time, not all of the time. It allows me a certain amount of discretion by letting me hit a button to turn timeline updates on or off.

Drawbacks
I was in at least 35 different conversations today and I can’t remember where I said what. I want to be able to search for things that I said. Make “me” searchable. I still can’t find out how to view just people in my clique. I want that to be an option and if it is, I want that to be more intuitive. Due to the instant interaction and the instant alerts I’ve found the use of this network to occupy a lot of my time. It’s hard to just walk away from a conversation. This is by no means the fault of Plurk, but a human trait we all possess.

I wonder how Plurk will do with scalability? Twitter has experienced a lot of trouble and downtime lately and it doesn’t have the type of interaction or interface that Plurk does. I wonder what kind of plans the creators of Plurk have to combat the inevitable?

I think Plurk has some real potential though I don’t know that I’m ready to migrate from the familiarity that is Twitter just yet. What makes it different and sets it aside from Twitter are all huge advantages for me; aside from the timeline view. I can see using Plurk as a means by which to have more personal interaction. It’s like interactive polling. Twitter is much easier to just output and walk away. Plurk, however, is a more like instant messaging in groups at your friends’ leisure.

Have some fun. Play around. What do you think about Plurk? What drawbacks, bonuses or other features (or lack there of) should we talk about?

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6 Responses to “To Plurk or Not to Plurk?”

  1. AlisonL said:

    Hey Kim – I agree with you! I found my productivity nose dive yesterday as my obsession with plurk increased. It was great fun, but kinda like cotton candy, after it was all over I couldn’t remember the jist of what was going on, where it happened and it almost just vanished into thin air!
    Definitely agree – with this mode of communication a search feature is ESSENTIAL…perhaps the hash’s will make a reappearance here and that will help
    But overall as far as people I like to interact with, I definitely prefer Plurk, much more intimate and I’ve already made a couple new friends who I feel like it was easier to get to know through this interface…

  2. Kim Fenolio said:

    Great thoughts there Alison! Thanks for sharing.

    I was thinking Plurk could really do some amazing things if they incorporated the Search function and allowed for groups. A Plurk user administrates and people can join. I would encourage the world to come to Plurk if that were the case! Think of the interactivity and the planning that could be had without friending or following others!

  3. Jim Goodrich said:

    It’s a fun tool. It’s more of an actual conversation as each plurk can develop a context beyond its initial statement by replies. You don’t have to send a new single message if you want to continue a conversation. That means you also aren’t forced to follow a conversation that doesn’t interest you. Very cool.

    It’s also viral by design, which is a good thing from two aspects, scalability and accessibility. When someone plurks, their friends see it, if a friend replies, their friends see the whole context and so on and so on… (c;

    That’s great from the getting people involved standpoint very viral, and because it’s based on a plurk’s context, There isn’t the need to follow everyone in case you miss something (that doesn’t mean it won’t happen, just that it doesn’t have to happen).

    It brings up a question though. How does that work when a a friend replies to a plurk from a protected account or from a private plurk? I don’t know yet, but it makes me wonder.

  4. Mary S said:

    Thank you so much for this post and the other GNI Unplug

  5. Krysta said:

    Twitter can kiss Plurks ass. The only thing that I find frustrating is no private messaging to let other users know to hook up with me. So that we send things back forth because of only one option.

  6. admin said:

    Krysta,
    Plurk does have a way to private message. Underneath the message field there’s a little drop down that allows you to type in one or more names that will send what’s called a Private Plurk. It’s pretty cool!

    -Kim

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