Josh analyzes the relative merits of Twitter vs newcomer Pownce, and finds Pownce wanting. Pownce is essentially an online chat application, which has essentially one unique feature:
instead of being boxed into 1:1 communication (IM) or X:X (chat) or 1:X (Twitter), Pownce offers all of it in one package. Want to send a picture to your family, but not all your friends? Easy: select recepients and send away. Try to do the same thing in any IM client and youâ€™ll see that it usually doesnâ€™t work and/or takes quite a few steps.
However, as Josh points out, Pownce lacks the public API which makes sites like twitterfeed possible, vastly increasing the utility of Twitter. Frankly, 140 chars of plaintext is enough; I still rue the day that email became html-enabled.
It’s sad but true that the vast majority of Twitterers employ the service for banal ends. However, there’s a lot more you can do. Josh uses it to tie together all his output, from Flickr to blogs. I use it as a roadtrip real-time journal (though twittering while driving/TWD has earned me some deserved reprimands). I also just added the feeds from the “stranger than fiction” and the “marshfield” categories here at Haibane.info to my twitter, to liven it up without flooding it too much. The key is not to overdo it.
The best thing about Twitter is that it’s input is device-agnostic; you can twitter from pretty much anywhere. Until global wifi becomes a reality (ie, never) or EVDO becomes affordable (ie, someday), you simply can’t expect access to the Internet from anywhere, even in the continental US. And more to the point, you aren’t limited to consuming content; you can also create content from anywhere.
Is Twitter perfect? obviously not. A simple feature request would be the ability to send pictures as well as text. That would increase the utility of twitter by another order of magnitude. But as it is, it’s still a novel service with genuine potential for creativity.
Incidentally, if anyone wants a Pownce invite, I’ve got 6 to hand out. Leave a comment with your email address.