A few weeks ago, I took a look at the concept of micro-blogging (Micro-blogging – Twitter, Jaiku & Pownce (Oh My!)). Well, as of January 22, 2008, the micro-blogging site Pownce has opened its doors to the public and you no longer need an invite to get past the velvet rope. This is great news for those looking for a micro-blogging site with a little more features (like file storage and the ability to send events or links), but how do you cover your basis? How can do you sign up for yet another social networking site? It seems that social networks are the new instant messaging protocols of the internet. Remember when you had ICQ and your friend was on MSN and you had to install MSN Messenger to talk to them (or they had to install ICQ)? Remember having anywhere between three or four instant messaging applications in your system tray? Remember when applications like Trillian or Pidgin (then GAIM) came along and saved you from that mess? Well, it’s a new era and it would seem that social networks are just like those instant messaging services of yester-year.
Consolidating Your Social
Forget being “welcomed to the social” (the early Microsoft Zune player slogan), if you are without a MySpace, Facebook, and/or Twitter accounts, well you just aren’t a happening person when it comes to the internet and the Web 2.0 era. If you have an account on one social network, it becomes almost a requirement to have one on the others. So if you have a MySpace account, you have to sign up for a Facebook account. If you are on Twitter, you have to grab a Pownce account. Since this article is focused on micro-blogging, we will be using the inclusive word, “networks” to refer to Twitter, Jaiku, and Pownce. So in a world where in order to ensure everyone has received your latest 140-ish character status update, what can you do? You have a couple of options, okay well really it’s only two:
- Cut some of these “networks” out of your life. Don’t exist on them. Forget they exist, no matter how many of your friends sign up for one in particular
- Create accounts on all “networks” and wait it out, see who comes out the winner
Number one sounds easy enough but when you start looking at it, that option doesn’t seem real “user friendly” and in fact it is the exact opposite. Option two seems to be the way to go but do you really want to post the same small update to 3 different sites? I know that I don’t really like going to three places to type the same thing. So how do we get around this annoyance? I mean you have Twitter, Jaiku, and Pownce for normal status updates, but you can also add a “status” to MySpace and even Facebook, so as you can see the problem gets compounded as more social networks come online.
So our first step is to find a way to post to as many of the social networks as possible. Twitter, Jaiku, and Pownce are made for micro-blogging status updates. With around 140 characters you can keep your friends updated on your current whereabouts, and what you are currently focusing on. So we want to utilize these sites in a big way. Through updating them, we can work on updating other statuses on other websites. The solution…
The website, HelloTxt.com, allows you to create an account and then set up access to all the micro-blogging websites available today. They even have a method for you to update your Facebook status. Having a single point of entry for your micro-blogging needs really helps cut down on the number of websites to visit. HelloTxt does a great job of allowing you to visit only one website to send updates to Pownce, Twitter, and Jaiku. There is a downside to using a website like this to update your status. In the case of Pownce, you can upload files, post events, or even post pictures, but you have to visit Pownce’s website or use the AIR application for Windows to do any of that. Using a website like HelloTxt will not allow you to utilize those features, at least not currently.
As you can see from the above screenshot, the HelloTxt website is quite concise and looks extremely simple to use. This is very much the case. The only problem I had was when I first added my accounts, the services disappeared from the main page and I had to do a little clicking around to get them back on the main page so I could post to them (you need to click on the little house icons under the Settings page). But once I did that, we were good to go. After using the site for a couple of days, I have decided to officially replace my use of TwitKu (see screen shot below, with HelloTxt.
Now a main advantage with TwitKu over HelloTxt is the fact that TwitKu has a mobile site that can be accessed from a mobile phone’s browser and then used to post updates to Twitter and Jaiku. HelloTxt currently lacks a mobile form of updating. However if HelloTxt could get a nice mobile site that I could access from my BlackBerry (or a nice third-party app would be nice too) HelloTxt has a real chance a making sure you can sign up for accounts on as many of the sites available and give you the ability to go to a single website to update them.
The Facebook Dilemma
So, you have these websites to which you post your status, and Facebook gives you the ability to post a “status” for yourself. So why am I going to Facebook to update my status? Surely there is a way that I can get my Facebook status updated without having to go the Facebook site. Since you have already posted your status to Twitter, Facebook, or Jaiku, you would hope there was a way for you to update your Facebook status from the status that you send to these websites. And you’d be correct, there is very much way for you to keep your Facebook status updated with ease, using the same status from your micro-blog. Depending on what micro-blogging site you favor (just because you have accounts and can update all of them does not mean you can’t have a favorite) you have your pick of Facebook applications. There is one for Twitter, Jaiku, and even Pownce.
All three of the linked applications allow you to have it (the application) set your Facebook status from one of any one of the sites and that means you have one less site to go to. Now, you might have noticed while looking over the many sites that HelloTxt can update is in fact Facebook, so if you are want you can set it up to update your Facebook status at the same time you update the rest of the sites.
So as we wrap up this little shin-dig, you should now be able to really do some micro-blogging. I know that it can be hard to pick a favorite site for your micro-blogging but hopefully you are now able to not have to worry about that, at least for a little while anyway. Using the methods described above, you should be able to effectively keep your friends apprised of your status and whereabouts without feeling the need to visit multiple websites to do so. I hate having to visit multiple websites to enter the same thing over and over again and now you won’t have to do that all.