Microblogging is all about conversations. About interesting ideas, and the opinions and clarifications to those. About discovering things happening around you.
But to be honest, Twitter and its clones like Identi.ca do not do that so well. Ease of posting, and good external tools might be there, but what lacks is the possibility to have real conversations. That is where Jaiku has been shining: the original posts follow the traditional microblogging concept of conversation starters being limited to the SMS-like 140 characters. But responses to those are not limited similarly, allowing thoughtful commentary to be written.
That is something that simply doesn't happen on Twitter: thoughtful discussion. The poor threading model, and lack of differentiation between conversation starters and comments simply means everybody ends up shouting on top of each other.
Brightkite, a location-aware microblogging service almost gets there. It differentiates conversation starters and comments from each other, and adds quite cool location-aware features on top of that. Suddenly I can follow conversations happening in the same neighborhood, or in the same city! But the problem is that they have made posting a little bit too cumbersome, and they make following and finding conversations quite difficult.
Instead of these services, Jaiku has been the place where the interesting stuff has been happening. But lately there has been too little development, and too much the failbird happening for it to remain a viable platform. And so the Finnish web community has been actively looking for an alternative. I think Qaiku, released today, could be it.
So, what is cool about Qaiku?
- Multilingual support: I can microblog in Finnish and English, and my international friends don't need to be bothered with a language they don't understand
- Private channels: our company can have a private channel where to handle actual workstreaming without leaking confidential information
- Favoriting and sharing: You can easily save interesting conversations to be accessed later, or share them in other services like del.icio.us or Facebook
- An evolving platform: Jaiku stagnated after Google bought them. With Qaiku there is a dynamic company, a cool platform and many interesting ideas that will hopefully make the service evolve into interesting directions
Sidenote: if microblogs are all about conversations, why doesn't my blog provide a commenting feature? To quote Alex Payne:
The main reason I don’t allow comments is that I want to inspire debate. I think people do their best writing when they’re forced to defend their ideas on their own turf. It’s one thing to leave a comment on someone else’s blog, but quite another to put your argument in front of your own readers. It forces a level of consideration that, without fail, results in a higher quality exchange of ideas.
With the same idea, instead of the comments happening on my site, I hope you will either react via your own blog, or by communicating using a microblogging service. If you link to me, I'll do my best to read it and respond :-)