Jaiku launching group nanoblogs

Twitter competitor Jaiku gets easy-to-use community channels

Rafe Needleman Former Editor at Large
Rafe Needleman reviews mobile apps and products for fun, and picks startups apart when he gets bored. He has evaluated thousands of new companies, most of which have since gone out of business.
Rafe Needleman
2 min read

At a SuperNova mixer yesterday, I met with Jyri Engestrom, founder of the often-compared-to-Twitter nanoblogging service, Jaiku. He told me that the service has a new feature that just went into public beta: Channels. These are like standard personal Jaiku feeds, but shared by groups. Here's the Webware channel. As of this writing, it's pretty spare (being that I just set it up and nobody knew about it until this moment), but you can also check out the Buzz out Loud channel, which has a bit more going on.

Webware's new Jaiku channel.

Jaiku's group nanoblogs are very much like chat rooms or message boards, but everyone is limited to 140 characters per post. Jaiku allows some other content to be fed in, though: You can put an RSS feed into a channel, or a Flickr feed, or even Twitter updates. Channels are good ways for fans or groups to keep in touch with each other and with the data feeds they all care about.

On Jaiku, the channels are ridiculously easy to set up. Once you're logged in, you can set one up through a simple form, or just go to the jaiku.com/channel/{groupname}. If the group doesn't exist, Jaiku will set it up for you on the spot. Very nice. All channels also get their own embeddable widgets (see below).

Jaiku is leading the pack

I hear rumors that Twitter is soon to roll out a similar service, as are some other publishing systems. In other words, the whole nanoblog space is about to become a commodity market. Every online service with a social component will eventually have one.

That's good, because the format works for people who are passionate about a topic or who want to remain actively involved in their groups. But it will be bad if all these different group nanoblog systems don't interoperate. Engestrom and I talked a bit about the need for open standards in nanoblogging. Jaiku, he says, is open. Twitter has APIs (this is why you can follow my Twitter updates on Jaiku). But the whole space will get very confusing if emerging nanoblog services try to lock people in the way the instant messaging services did and the way social network sites still do.

I'm not saying there's an easy solution to this, but the last thing we need is another set of similar but disconnected communication services that each require separate logins. If I'm nanoblogging on Facebook, you should be able to read my feed on Twitter if that's where you prefer to hang out, and vice versa (which, actually, does work). As the social networks roll out their own nanoblogging services to serve their specific communities, I dearly hope they don't take a short-sighted view and try to lock users in to their own platforms. But I won't be surprised if they do.