Social software du jour: Twitter and Virb

Recently I’ve been toying with Twitter, a viciously addictive little social networking/microblogging application intended to work on mobile devices. Twitter lets you post 143-character bursts of self-expression (where you’re going for lunch, what the cat ate for breakfast, what social networking app you’re moving to next) and broadcasts them to all your friends foolish enough to subscribe to your feed. You can both post and read through text messaging, IM, or a web interface. Twitter seems to have the attention of the early adopters — all the usual social networking cool kids are on it.

me at twitter

Oddly enough, Twitter isn’t location-sensitive, unlike its competitor Dodgeball. It seems to me that being able to filter by location would be a natural for both senders and subscribers. If I’m out for the evening or attending a conference I might want to be able to connect with only those of my friends currently in the area. Perhaps Twitter’s decision to be both mobile- and IM-friendly is a limiting factor: it has a minimalist set of controls suitable for texting from a keypad, and it can’t use location info from the mobile service provider because that would be unavailable from an IM client.

Another social app I was recently invited to is Virb, a wannabe MySpace killer. So far it seems pretty much like a feature-for-feature MySpace clone without the totally disgusting design. I’ve heard that Virb does a better job with music features but I haven’t investigated that yet.

If anybody would like a Twitter or Virb invitation, let me know. Virb is presently in stealth beta and I only have a few invitations left, so act fast.

Update: ValleyWag has reported (or manufactured?) a flap about Michael Harrington being embarrassed on a panel recently when he brought Twitter up on the screen and somebody in the audience twittered something flip. Surely that has happened whenever a brave presenter has tuned into the livebloggers and IRC. Of more interest to me is Twitter founder Evan Williams’ remark (mistakenly attributed to Stewart Butterfield) that “Every time I hear ‘UGC’, a little part of me — and everything I’ve ever believed in — dies.” What’s the gripe with user-generated content? Is it a question of marketing-centric terminology or really something he doesn’t like about the idea?

3 thoughts on “Social software du jour: Twitter and Virb

  1. At risk of putting words in Evan Williams’ mouth, I think the problem is A) the term was created by hucksters, and B) it was created by hucksters whose goal is to put up websites where users generate all the content and the hucksters rake in the cash.

  2. Thanks for the explanation. I have to say that as misbegotten jargon goes, this one doesn’t bug me so much.

    Users: they should be grateful we’re not calling them lusers. Generated: seems like a pretty generic and innocuous synonym for “made”, and at least it doesn’t have overtones regarding the loss of IP rights the way “contributed” does. Content: I actually like the word content; the content-container dualism can seem like a false one until, voila!, the content is repurposed somewhere else and you find out there’s some reality behind it.

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