Did Jaiku Tip the Tuna?

    April 9, 2007

Did Jaiku tip the tuna Sunday?  Leo Laporte  jumped ship from Twitter to Jaiku, his 4,000 followers followed. 

Jaiku The Twitter herd debated platforms, has herds do when chosing to migrate.  Suddenly the story was Twitter vs. Jaiku and Jaiku team dealt with digesting a big chocolate Easter Bunny.

Let me provide some context first.  I was exposed to Jaiku at Aula in Helsinki last June.  From my notes:

Jyri Engeström and Mika Raento on social peripheral vision.  Phones are designed with the assumption that you know who you want to call before you do.  You need to process social signals before using the device.  Jaiku, their startup is looking to augment basic functions of a phone by pasting onto it what is happening on the internet.  If you can’t find anyone in your contact book, you can search a directory made of everyone’s contacts. Calendars let you share future events to let you plan together.  The demo shows very rich profiles based on phone usage (automatic data) and more social signals (more manual) — which provides a different form of Presence.  In usage, people still call regardless of presence, but when someone doesn’t answer, you leverage the presence to understand why. Integrated IM is more convenient than SMS, and includes group messaging.

Since then, Twittr came on the scene and Jakiu’s web interface got a major upgrade.  It’s important to understand the significant differences between the two services, their design thinking and strengths.  Joi Ito:

Looks like a bunch of people are trying out Jaiku after "tasting" co-presence with Twitter. To me, Jaiku, which existed before Twitter, is a bunch of Helsinki mobile jocks getting into the Web 2.0 of it all whereas Twitter is the Web 2.0 crowd "getting" co-presence…

Jaiku comes from a "presence" background allowing bluetooth proximity, phone idle time, ringer mode and other things to trigger state changes – the messaging came later. Twitter, on the other hand, is primarily messaging, which as we all know, is just a flexible and manual vector for presence information.

To understand where Jaiku is coming from, I encourage you to read this interview with co-founder Jyri Engeström and his post on social peripheral vision (the ability to have your finger on the pulse of your friends, family, and colleagues).

Twitter on paper
  Twitter on paper 
  Originally uploaded by jack dorsey.

In digging around for some of the thinking behind Twitter, I found Jack Dorsey’s napkin design for Twitter:

from a note circa Jan 2006.

casual awareness.
"what are you up to?"

multiple entry point to set status
– web
– email
– phone
– sms
– im

multiple ways to "subscribe" to status
– web
– email
– phone
– sms
– im

3 aspects
– set status
– timeline (collaborative)
– configuration

The interesting thing is that I found it on Jack’s Jaiku page where he had included his Flickr stream as part of his presence.  For a long time I’ve wanted the Xfire for social software, and today Jaiku provides this kind of persistent presence.

Jaiku lets you incorporate feeds from your blog, bookmarks, photos, location — and Twitter if that is where you prefer to post status.  Every post of any kind becomes an object for conversation, through comments.  This works easily in the web UI, but it also works in the Nokia mobile client because presence isn’t overwhelming. Presence is something you can glance at, not an SMS interruption. 

Unfortunately today this requires a Nokia phone, but they are working on a Java version that also specifically supports commenting (kind of like Radar.net, more on that later).  People coming from Twitter won’t expect the ability to add their attention breadcrumbs to their attention stream (developers will) and will probably expect something they can adopt on their mobile easily.  In the US, this is a significant barrier (Sidenote: fuck you Cingular.  Making me change calling plans to switch SIM cards from my Blackberry and claiming the handset wont work because you don’t sell it even though it runs the same software is an easy way to lose me as a customer, as if I had alternatives.).  Jaiku isn’t ready to Tip the Tuna until their next mobile client comes out. 

But until then I’d expect a lot of people to use the web version as an attention pool.  Posting to Jaiku via Twitter is a no-brainer and I’d hope you can do the opposite without loops and dupes soon.  Rafe asked the right question:           Is it possible Twitter and Jaiku will end up sharing users, instead of hoarding them like the IM services did early on? I responded: systems of record are being replaced by systems of discovery. 

In other words, in the first web I would worry about which service I would commit my social network, presence and persistence to.  But services are increasingly making data discoverable and discovering data from other services.  We used to worry about transporting our FOAF relationships, but then I think we realized that each tool is different and being able compose a different social network was a virtue (not just because of faceted identity, but that different tools need different filters and the social network is the filter).

UPDATE: This post was written in haste before going out for Easter.  Jaiku released their API and developer site.  I forgot to highlight Marko Ahtisaari’s why I use Jaiku:

1. Silent sociality – checking up on what my friends are up to when convenient, and posting my own state knowing that I won’t be disturbing others (unless they have explicitly asked to be alerted).

2. Small-group sociality – Jaiku is not about celebrity. I’m interested in sharing state with a small group I’m nearly always in contact with, what Mimi Ito has called full-time intimate community.

3. Mobile sociality – Jaiku was designed with the mobile "living phonebook" interface in mind. SMS alerts crowding the inbox of one of the few working personal and functional communication channels is not my idea of improving communication. I use the SMS-in posting to Jaiku when I’m using my Nokia 8800 and with my N70 I use the Jaiku phonebook.

4. Background sociality – Jaiku allows me to integrate other online identities and feeds (including delicious, flickr and any RSS) into my single jaiku presence feed. This is done in a way that doesn’t confuse these background posts with my explicit state messages.