When I was asked if I was “plurking yet”, I thought it had something to do with baby vomit. But no, it is once again another Web 2.0 name and once again another lifestreaming service that tries to imitate Twitter, while at the same time it tries to show people how different it is from Twitter. Confused? Don’t worry, you won’t be in a moment.
In a nutshell, Plurk is basically the same as Twitter but with a “timeline” thrown in. Exclusively confined to the website at the moment (there aren’t any Plurk desktop apps right now – yet), you are able to say to the world what you are doing, how you are feeling, what you want, and much more. You can even share weblinks such as YouTube videos – which are playable inside the timeline. These messages are called….you guessed it…..”plurks”.
I’ve spent a couple of days playing with Plurk and trying out the different features. At first I detested the whole thing. My first reaction was “Oh God! I hate this!” and to a certain extent, I still feel a certain negativity towards the whole thing. I guess I will never really warm to it that much, the same way I have warmed towards Twitter. But I kind of like it a lot more today than I did a couple of days ago.
So let’s start plurking!
When you are in Plurk for the first time, it will be just like Twitter – it will be quiet because you won’t know anyone (except for “PlurkBuddy” who is there to dispense some friendly advice to you). So you can click on “Interesting Plurkers” in the top right hand corner of the screen and start following some of them to get the action going on the screen.
One of the problems about Twitter is that the more people you have following you, the more unwieldy they become to manage. Plurk on the other hand allows you separate your friends into groups or “cliques” and you can send plurks to a particular clique.
So you can have a work clique, a friends clique and so on. This makes managing your friends much more easier and is one of the Plurk features that I really like.
OK, so now you have some “friends” on the screen sending “plurks” your way. Now it’s time to reciprocate and send a plurk back. So just off the top of my head, I wrote :
Once you hit “enter”, off it goes into your timeline for your friends to read and respond to if they want to. But you don’t only have the choice of “thinks”. If you hit that downwards arrow, you can also choose from verbs such as “likes”, “hates”, “is”, “shares”, “feels”, “says” and many more.
Now if you’re a Plurk friend of mine and you saw that message, thought it was the most profound thing you had ever read, and felt you just had to respond, then you just have to simply click on the message in the timeline. That opens up a reply box in which you can type a reply.
When a reply is sent, I will then see this next to your Plurk in the timeline screen :
The number in the coloured box alerts you that there are replies to your message. To read them, just click on the number and the message box expands to reveal the replies. At the bottom of the message box, you can leave your own replies to the replies, as you can see below :
Now when one of your Plurk friends leaves a new message, you will be notified by a message in the corner of your screen :
This can actually lead to one big load of stress! When you are clicking on this link, the timeline moves back and forth to where these new messages are and if you are following a lot of people, this can prove to be a bit on the stressful side, trying to keep up. I really hope Plurk finds a better way for users to receive new updates because I personally don’t like this method.
How about a RSS feed or a nice smooth drop-down list instead? Why does it have to be a back and forth scrolling timeline?
The part though where I think Plurk really kicks Twitter’s butt though is the ability to share YouTube videos and photos. As yet, you can’t do this in Twitter but you can in Plurk, simply by using the “shares” prefix and then posting the link in the box :
When you then send the Plurk to the timeline, a thumbnail appears in your Plurk and when someone clicks on it, a larger box opens up inside the timeline to reveal the photo / video. If it’s a video, it will automatically start playing. Why can’t Twitter do something like this?
One of the weird things I found about Plurk was the “Karma Points” system. You couldn’t unlock certain features until you had done certain things. So you couldn’t alter certain parts of your profile until you had accumulated some karma points or you had invited some friends to join or so on. Very weird.
You can also apparently Plurk from your instant messaging program (all major platforms supported) and there is supposed to be mobile phone support but I searched high and low to find the page for this to no avail. If anyone can point out the Plurk mobile phone set up page, please do because so far it is eluding me.
So in conclusion, Plurk is a good application with good potential which many social media junkies will enjoy. But I just haven’t been able to bond with it, the same way that I have with Twitter. But hey, each to their own. I’m not saying Plurk is bad, I’m just saying it isn’t for me. But it’ll be interesting to see where this goes in the future and if it has the staying power to compete with Twitter.