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Pownce: micro-blogging made easy

I like Pownce. I did like Twitter, but I don’t anymore. For me, Pownce is micro-blogging personified. While being simple to use, it’s deceptively powerful stuff. However, much like any other Social Network, it’s not the features that maketh Pownce, it’s the people…

Recently, I’ve been banging a big drum about a new illness called Social Network Fatigue. There’s a lot of it about, and it’s catching.

Every time you sign up to a new Social Network, your symptoms get worse; a general feeling of tiredness from filling out yet one more profile page.

So maybe the timing wasn’t ideal for Pownce, since this new illness was already rife and there was something of a shared sigh when Pownce hit the Social Network scene.

I’m of the understanding that Pownce trails Twitter in terms of the number of people using it. But it does depend on what you want to achieve and the type of people you want to be amongst, which we’ll touch upon later in this article.

What is Pownce?

Put simply, Pownce is a small or micro ‘blog that you share with people you add as your friends.

You get to post stuff like links, events, files (such as images, movies, music et cetera) and people can reply to those posts. They can even score your post, giving it a zero to five star rating.

As of earlier this week, the guys behind Pownce – those being some of the guys who’re behind Digg – released a new, updated version of Pownce, one that includes some very nice features:

  • Upcoming event notifications » now see the next five upcoming events you’ve been sent. It’s a handy way to make sure you don’t miss something.
  • In-line video playback & in-line image previews » we’re now automagically embedding YouTube, Google, Metacafe, Revver, Vimeo, and other videos into your notes.
  • Display your Social Networks & links » now, you can display them on your profile, so people can find you elsewhere too.
  • New preferences settings » you can now open links in a new window by default! You can also set your default note view to something other than ‘notes & replies’.

The in-line images comes courtesy of Zooomr, who I’d not heard of until they were announced with the Pownce updates. So I suspect something suitably symbiotic at work here.

What can you do with Pownce?

  • It’s free to sign up to Pownce. There’s a Pro version, which does away with the adverts (which are hardly obtrusive, but some are 403‘ing when clicked) and allows you to send files up to 100 megabytes in size. However, the regular version is limited to files up to 20 megabytes in size
  • In much the same way I predicted a future social utility to Twitter, Pownce leapt into action and filled that particular gap with the option to post events. So if you’re somewhat of a social butterfly, or maybe you’re a conference hopper, a festival fiend or a mobile worker, here’s your chance to help people keep you inside their radar.
  • When posting something, you can either post it publicly, post it just to your friends or specific friends. You can also create groups for your friends, so you can post to just those groups, too. Also, when you reply to a post by someone else, their friends get to see your comments. In that sense, you’re probably exposing your opinions to a much wider audience.
  • You don’t have to add someone as a friend to comment on one of their posts. But if you want, you can add anyone as a friend. When you do this, you become a fan of theirs. They don’t have to reciprocate, but often they do. Once someone is a friend of yours, you see their posts in your profile page. Additionally, you can receive updates of their posts via email.
  • I like to post links to stuff I’ve bookmarked, written or commented on. So here’s a chance to get a dialogue going with the people you’ve added as friends. This is a good way to build up a presence and some momentum for your ‘blogging. It’s also a good way to reach out to your friends and keep them informed.
  • Because it’s pretty much instant, Pownce is a good way of asking questions, previewing something you’re working on, or maybe to get some feedback on something you’ve seen, heard or read about. Pownce is a good adjunct to email, if used properly.
  • Some people post links to music and movie clips. But now you can do that within the page itself, which will make for an even better experience, letting you share more easily the stuff you’re interested in.
  • You can subscribe to your feed and add it to your Lifestream or Workstream. Using something like Yahoo! Pipes, you can build your very own feed, made up of many other feeds.
  • The recent update to Pownce lets you add links to your other Social Network and Social Media profiles, such as del.icio.us, Digg, Last.fm, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon, YouTube, Flickr, Technorati and of course Twitter. This means your Pownce profile is more than just a micro-blog. It’s a functional a very realistic venue to use as a platform for some serious Social Networking and Social Media promotion.
  • It’s not all good. Because we have very little control over what appears on our main profile page, it’s better to make references to the other web pages that we do have control over, such as our links page and our sent page, although it’s possible that there’s been an unpleasant reply or two. But that’s down to your selection of friends.

Who would you expect to see on Pownce?

In general, the people on Pownce are more of a tech’ crowd. However, this isn’t a bad thing. Certainly not for the likes of me, anyhow.

My experience is that by & large, they’re a good crowd and happy to engage in a pretty wide and eclectic range of topics, not just technology-related.

There’s some young guys & gals on Pownce, but in the main, the general age group seems to be mid twenties upwards.

5 ways to improve Pownce

  1. I’d like to be able to ‘claim’ my Pownce profile on Technorati.
  2. I’d like a Pownce client for the Mac.
  3. I’d like to be able to reply to posts with the same tools I have when I’m starting a thread, i.e.: with links, events, files et cetera.
  4. I want my own feed, not just my public feed. Since I can’t control what others are saying, I can’t really make too much use of my feed.
  5. A fully-featured API (Application Programming Interface). There’s other things an API would allow for, such as more interaction via other web services.

In conclusion…

Like most things in life, you only get out of something what you put in. And in this regard, Pownce is no exception.

For me, it’s about making contact with like-minded people and to push my ‘blog, generating interest in what I’m writing about.

What you choose to get out of Pownce is up to you. But of all the Social Networks I’ve tripped on and fallen for, Pownce and StumbleUpon are the best…

Recommended reading

By Wayne Smallman

Wayne is the man behind the Blah, Blah! Technology website, and the creator of the Under Cloud, a digital research assistant for journalists and academics.

8 replies on “Pownce: micro-blogging made easy”

Nice write up. As a Web developer I decided this summer that I needed to get a better understanding of Web 2.0 and social networking. A few weeks ago I blogged about some of my initial experiments. I’m still trying to get the hang of Powncing and finding legitimate uses for it. It seems the most active users, those who post a lot and receive a lot of replies, write about anything and everything. Somehow I’m not yet compelled to post things like “Drove 4 miles to work this morning with the top down. The weather was brilliant and for once I wished for a longer commute.”

Yet those sorts of things get traffic. And when you have such traffic then add something more purposeful, such as “I just blogged about X” then it seems to come in handy. I guess I’ll get the feel for it over time, but you’re article gave a good summation. And of course I found it because you had put a message out on Pownce saying you’d just finished writing the post!

Hi Heidi and thanks for both the comment here and adding me as a contact on Pownce! Much appreciated.

You’ve uncovered a hidden human-driven feature of Pownce, which is how the incidental stuff of one person is escapism for someone else.

An example would be one person taking their dog for a walk on the beach. Another would be someone popping into a deli in downtown New York.

If you’ve been to neither a beach nor New York, these simple, almost passing incidents are an insight into a lifestyle totally different to your own.

I latched onto this some time ago and I’ve been slowly edging towards melding incidental dialogue with more meaningful issues, or me posting links as a means of getting some Social Networking traction…

I like using twitter and pownce to be honest. I started with pownce, and tried twitter because so many of my pownce friends were using it. They both seem completely different to me.

Hi Howard, thanks for the comment!

In many ways, they are different, but the way in which they’re different means that for me personally, Twitter sinks while Pownce sails.

I was invited to a group chat on Skype some time ago, discussing Twitter4Skype, and I was lucky enough to be amongst some of the developers for Skype.

Right then, Twitter was really cutting a swathe and looked set to become a dominant player in the micro-blogging scene.

Since that time, nothing’s changed and the feature set seems stuck.

I like a proper conversation with people, with proper he-said / she-said replies and no insane character limit.

I just can’t use Twitter anymore. I thought I could, but I just can’t.

As a micro-blogging platform, for me personally, Twitter is far too limited…

Wayne,
That’s an interesting point you make about escapism. I hadn’t thought about it that way, yet most of the people I’ve corresponded with on Pownce seem to be in Asia or Europe. I’ll have to start thinking about the things I do from a different perspective…i.e. what might be uniquely American. So far the only way I’ve touched on this is in recognizing that traffic in Cleveland is far less dense than in Mumbai. Other than that it has reinforced what I’ve learned when traveling, mo matter where we may live we have more in common than many people realize.

p.s. Thanks for the blog comment!

A traffic jam in Mumbai is always likely to be different to one in Cleveland, Ohio, US or even Cleveland, Cumbria, UK.

Take for example a traffic jam in the centre of Delhi, India.

Live stock on the road will always be quite different to the more mundane jack-knifed lorry we see…

This is a nice article, it contains very useful information. Most of all I like the fact that it is a good sourse for making contact with like-minded people and to push any “blog, generating interest in what you are writing about”.

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