Plurk: The Better Micro Society For Sharing

by Contrapuntist on July 19, 2008

in Cultural Improvisations

Plurk Homepage

In the past few weeks Plurk, a new social media site, has captivated my attention.  Instead of jumping on the blogging bandwagon and writing about how good or bad Plurk is, I chose to participate and observe for a while first.  There are many elements and characteristics about Plurk that are great, but one thing that I really love is how easy it is to share visual media like photos and videos.  Along with the ability to comment on each video in a single Plurk or thread, it’s this feature where I think Plurk leaves other similar services in the dust.  Visual content can also be embedded within a the thread as well.  It really is an amazing service.

Truthfully, a few months ago I never understood why microblogs, like Twitter and Jaiku, were such a big deal.  After participating in Plurk, I’d rather think of it as a micro-society instead of a microblog.  Why? Plurk facilitates community by creating micro societies and conversations within each of those societies. It connects smalls groups of people, but brings together a small group.  Dictionary.com defines society as:

An organized group of persons associated together for religious, benevolent, cultural, scientific, political, patriotic, or other purposes.

Plurk is simply the medium that facilitates connection, but once the connections are made a micro society is the result.  Within those connections, Plurk allows you to control what you share and how your share it.  Instead of sharing with all of Plurk, you have the option to control what connections will view that information.  In other words, you may have 100 connections, but only choose five of those connections to participate in a conversation.  As a result, that allows members to have intimate conversations with others (I don’t mean that in a weird sexual way, although I am sure it happens).

Plurk makes it easy to find people, comment on conversations, see other people’s point of view, and share digital content.  By digital content, I am referring to links (to anything), videos and images.  The only missing element is the ability to embed and share music from music sharing sites like Imeem and Last.fm.  Hopefully, that will made possible in the future.

Comparisons between Plurk and Twitter

Plurk Versus Twitter

One reason Plurk has become popular in such a short period of time is because Twitter continues to struggle with keeping its service running.  As Plurk has risen to prominence, there have been many comparisons between each.  I feel compelled to give my two cents about each, but only as it relates to sharing information.

I’ll be the first to admit, when I first joined Twitter, I didn’t get it.  I didn’t understand what the big deal was, nor why it mattered that I should be on it.  It was confusing to follow conversations on Twitter because it seemed very disorganized and disjointed.  Sure, it was easy to share activities, ideas and information with others, but all the conversations are intermingled making challenging to have a conversation or have more intimate conversations with others.  I am sure others will disagree.  In order to follow a long conversation you had to go back and figure out where that conversation began.  Often times, the “back” feature on Twitter was turned off, which frustrated me and turned me away from using it.  Granted, I was a newbie to Twitter, but when you are trying to learn something new you expect it to work. And, if you wanted to have more personal conversation with someone, you could only have it one other person, instead of with a group.

Plurk, on the other hand, includes the entire conversations in a single thread making it easier to follow and add your own thoughts.  As fellow Plurker, David Alston,  put it, Plurk puts the “social” back in social media.  I couldn’t agree more.  It is the threaded conversations which really make it more conversational than Twitter.  In addition, Plurk is constantly adding new functionality such as recently adding a search function within the platform making it easy to find conversations of interest, search for people in your geographic location, and search your own timeline.  Twitter is lacks much of this functionality.  Granted there are plenty of sites that support Twitter, like Summize, but really, I would think it is best to build these functions within the platform instead of making users LEAVE it.

This is not to say that Plurk isn’t having some growing pains.  There have been moments when Plurk is unavailable, but the key difference is when Plurk returns there is something new, or a bug has been fixed.  The fact that Plurk is constantly refining itself is really where it leaves Twitter in the dust.  There are a number of other reasons why.  Instead of regurgitating the same thing others have mentioned, check out the following: Techipedia, InsideCRM, and Plurkiverse.

Here is a nice little article that describes the different characteristics of Plurk.

Sharing on Plurk vs. Twitter

Where Plurk separates itself from Twitter and other similar sites is how you are able to share information.  Twitter allows anyone to share links from anywhere on the web, but it redirects you off the site.  Plurk allows users to add a link, or make it into a hyperlink.  It is the choice that makes a difference here.

The only way to share visual content on Twitter is by sharing a link. The link could be an image from Flickr or a YouTube video, either way it is treated the same.  For example, take a look at the image below. I’ve shared a link to the new Alice Cooper trailer for his upcoming new album.  To view the trailer, a Twitterer has to click on the link and will then be redirected to the YouTube website to view.

Sharing on Twitter

Sharing a video in Plurk is a similar process as in Twitter, but the results are very different.  I can take the exact same link from YouTube, paste the link, and Plurk will embed the YouTube video right into the comment.  Take a look at the image below.

Sharing Youtube video on Plurk

The image is actually the video embedded.  In the Plurk community that is what anyone who visits my profile will see.  In fact, the entire video can be viewed within Plurk.

In addition to being able to watch the entire video on Plurk, your Plurk friends and fans, or anyone else you allow, can leave comments about the video. Don’t get me wrong, as I mentioned before, Plurk won’t allow all video sites, but it does allow for any YouTube video to be shared.  Last I checked, there was no shortage of music videos on YouTube to share with others.  In addition to videos, images can also be shared from sites such as Tinypic, Flickr, Photobucket and ImageShack.  To embed an image, follow the same process as you would a YouTube video.

Once the video is embedded, depending on your privacy setting, anyone Plurker can comment about the video or even add more videos within the same thread.  Check out the image below.  The very first comment is another video, which can also be viewed in the Plurk community.

Threaded conversation on Plurk

Here is a nice little tutorial for embedding content on Plurk.

The Conversational Society

The ability to meet people and connect with them easily is really what makes Plurk a gem.  It is the main reason why a consider Plurk a society versus a microblog.  Plurk’s design makes it easier to share content, such as videos or images, but also talk about that content.  If Plurk were to add the ability to share music from music social networking sites and/or embed mp3 somehow, it would make Plurk that much more powerful of a place to share content.

We all have passions and Plurk makes it possible to share those passions with ease.  I have managed to connect with great people on Plurk.  Not every Plurk thread will entice a conversation, but there is always the opportunity for music lovers to take advantage of a site that thrives on connecting with others, sharing passions, and conversing about those passions.

I hope to see you there!  Anyone interested can join and instantly connect with me by clicking this link.

Image Source: IsmailD (‘Plurk vs. Twitter’ image only)

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

KDFRawg July 20, 2008 at 9:13 am

Excellent, thoughtful, and cogent article about Plurk and Twitter. Thanks very much for it.

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Paul Chaney July 20, 2008 at 2:11 pm

Awesome post! Much better description than mine to be sure. Thanks for turning me onto it.

I love the term “micro-society.” That’s a very apt description.

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