For a while now, I have been playing with Jaiku, which is Google’s equivalent of Twitter. You can use it to update your status, chat to other Jaiku users and microblog on the web. It is still in closed beta, and until recently. invites were strictly limited. But a few weeks back, Jaiku allowed existing users to give away unlimited invites, so a colleague gave one to me and I started playing with the service to see if it was a Twitter killer or not.
My initial impressions are that it is a nice shiny toy with a lot to commend, but Twitter doesn’t have to worry for now. I can see the two of them easily co-existing side by side with one another. Jaiku also doesn’t have the huge userbase that Twitter has in order to threaten Twitter’s existence, so I think both services can peacefully co-exist for some time to come. Solely having the Google brand behind them isn’t enough to guarantee overwhelming success. It will take more time and more work for Jaiku to climb that hill and eat into Twitter’s microblogging lead, but they have the potential.
So let’s check out some of the features of Jaiku :
Make channels to separate conversations :
Sometimes it gets difficult to keep track of conversations, so unlike Twitter, you can separate your conversations into various “channels”. Each channel name is preceded by a hashtag #, so the Second Life channel for example would be #secondlife .
One downside of channel conversations however is that they do not appear on your main Jaiku conversation page. They are instead tucked away in the channel page. So anyone tracking your Jaiku profile will not see what you are saying in that channel or indeed that you are even a member of a particular channel, unless they go to your Jaiku profile on the site, check your channel memberships, and see what you have joined.
I have made a Geeks Are Sexy channel on Jaiku – #geeksaresexy. You can find it here. Feel free to join it. I’m not sure if anything will be done with it yet. I made it for demonstration purposes for this article. But if you have a Jaiku account, feel free to join it anyway!
Post to Jaiku using Instant Messaging
If you have a Google Talk, Jabber, or Livejournal chat account, just add firstname.lastname@example.org to your contact list and you can send your updates straight to Jaiku from your IM. When using the bot for the first time, you need to send it your username and password so it can activate itself.
Apparently, if you want to use another IM client such as AIM, Yahoo, or MSN, then you need to use the Imified web service. I have previously posted about Imified here and here. I love using this service as the bots enable you to turn your IM program into something more powerful than just something you use for chatting to your buddies.
The bot will send you copies of ALL the Jaikus from ALL of your Jaiku contacts, including yourself, as they are posted to the website. If you don’t want this, just type STOP and these messages will instantly cease. I found the constant stream of messages to be extremely irritating so I was glad I was able to stop it.
Update your Jaiku page via mobile phone
You can also update your Jaiku page via mobile phone but you can only send TO Jaiku – you can’t get updates sent BACK to you (but Twitter has stopped this now too I think). There is a US number, and a Finland number too for the rest of the world. So just program the number into your phone and SMS your messages in.
Jaiku will send you a SMS with an activation code to verify that you own the mobile number that you have entered into your account.
Jaiku also offers some nice other features for your profile – RSS feeds, the ability to add other web feeds and photos, set your preferred privacy level, obtain embeddable badges for your blog, and much more.
On the whole, this is quite an impressive web service, but I think the one drawback is that it has not so many users at the moment. But this is because it is in closed beta and invites can only be sought from existing users, which seems to be a standard Google practice. If Jaiku was open to everyone, then I think we would see a rush of registrations and it would be more widely adopted.
But saying that, the existing users that I have talked to find this to be a PLUS. They like that it is an exclusive service right now. By getting in now, they have their pick of username, they can essentially build their community before the rush of people starts. There’s virtually no spam users either since everyone has been invited by someone else (a bit like an exclusive club). So all of this makes for a very pleasant user experience.
Would you like to get into Jaiku? If so, I am willing to send out invites. But instead of me just flinging out invites to everyone, let’s make this fun instead.
In the comments, tell me why you would like an invite and what you would talk on Jaiku about. The best and creative responses get an invite! I’ll also send invites to what I think are the most thoughtful and constructive thoughts & opinions about Jaiku.
Or maybe you’d like to sing a song about Jaiku, tell a good joke….anything constructive, interesting, funny will get an invite in their email!
If you don’t say anything except “give me an invite!” then no invite will be forthcoming amigo!
So get your creative juices flowing and start commenting! :-)