Most of the time when something new happens on the internet, I'm hopelessly behind the curve. I only really figured out wikis a few months ago, and I was a bit too young to get blogging out of the gate. And I was late to live journal and even then it took me years to figure out why that was so cool.
But microblogging? I was totally there, I mean I wasn't there at the very beginning, but from the moment that there was any amount of steam behind twitter, I got it. Which is really cool, at least I think it is. Basically micro-blogging is a short, 140 character, "blog/messaging service" which combines the best parts of group chat and
And as you might know from your own experience or from my previous posts, I've tried a lot of services and have a few opinions about what makes a service better or worse. I can hear you saying, "What tycho opinionated?" but suspend your shock, and hang with me.
Twitter's "killer feature" is the fact that there are so many users, and that it focuses on ease of usability, so people "get it" pretty quickly. There's a lot of power in the size of the community, and the fact that the crowd is no longer "just geeks." The cons are that they don't have IM access (which isn't good) and that it's all "too simple" so that it can be hard to track conversations and ideas and/or to have enough granular control over conversations.
Jaiku started in Finland, and bought by google, innovated in two big ways. First, it combined the lifestreeming (a la whoisi and friendfeed) with microblogging. Secondly, it has threaded comments, which make a lot of sense, and provide a helpful way to get around the 140 character limit. There are also "channels" which users can join and form to create (almost) ad-hoc groups based on topics and events to keep discussion of events out of "general feed."
I have less experience with plurk than the other services. The features of this one seem to be: an innovative display (which I hate) and a greater focus on conversational threads, but I think the Jaiku solution is better, frankly. Also there's this "karma" system which I think is clearly a cheap ploy to get people invested in their Plurk activity, but it's too transparent and makes me feel like I'm in a game theory experiment which isn't cool at all.
Largely irrelevant, to my mind, but facebook has had "status" for a long time, and this is basically a microblogging feature. It now has comments, and isn't prefixed by "is" (though for a while, there was some humor in how people used or didn't use the leading to be conjugation.) I think as a serious microblogging competitor, it doesn't really pan out.
Pownce, is nifty, and as of today, has file sharing abilities that other services don't have. That's cool. Pownce is also the only one that I know of that has abandoned the 140 character limit, which I'd throw my hat behind. It also has threaded conversations, but I think jaiku's implementation is a bit better. There's IM but it's not incredibly intuitive. It's been a while, which brings me to the major down side is that despite having a semi-compelling feature set, the community has never been that large or active, or grown beyond the usual core of early adopters (etc.) that I've grown used to seeing everywhere. If we're just talking about features though, I think pownce has a lot going for it, unfortunately this isn't a features game.
Clearly this is where I am right now. Fundamentally, I'm not sure if the laconica software solves (m)any of the problems with twitter. For the moment it uses a CMS rather than a messaging model, it doesn't have threaded conversations (really), the graphic design/theme needs a good once over, and there isn't that huge community that twitter has going for it. The people who use identi.ca tend to be really into it, and that makes up for the relatively small size. It helps that there's a real-time push-based IM/xmpp connection, and the scaling problem is solved by making growth a horizontal (federation) rather than a vertical (architecture/infrastructure) problem.
So that's the major players, at least of the open networks (not counting yammer, say) and of the sites that I've had any real interaction with. The most interesting thing about this is that it's all going to be different in six months or a year, and it's cool to be here now to watch as things unwind.