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Google to revive Jaiku micro-blog with Social Network smarts?

I like Jaiku, though I suspect many of you have never heard of this smart micro-blogging platform. But if there’s any truth in recent talk, you might be seeing a lot more of Jaiku…

I like Jaiku, though I suspect many of you have never heard of this smart micro-blogging platform. But if there’s any truth in recent talk, you might be seeing a lot more of Jaiku…

Jaiku — Social Network and lifestream combined

Google bought Jaiku in late 2007, but since then there’s been almost no development at all. And what community Jaiku did have has hung on by its finger nails, hoping for Google to make a move.

Having bought Jaiku, Google have themselves a ready made Social Network that has the goods to pull their many services and applications into a vast cloud of themes, where people could share ideas, tips, advice about their activities, or just to chat as friends.

What is Jaiku?

Jaiku logoJaiku is like a cross between Pownce and Twitter, but with it’s very own smarts. Pownce allows you to add your other profiles (such as Digg, StumbleUpon, Twitter, Reddit et cetera), but only as a blogroll of sorts, whereas Jaiku integrates them into your Lifestream, creating something much more useful.

Similar to Twitter, you only get 140 characters per message to play with, but you also get a neat collection of icons to add to your messages, plus you can comment on anything in your Lifestream; be that a song from Last.fm, a link from del.icio.us, or another message by one of your friends.

In many ways, Jaiku was and still is doing what the likes of FriendFeed is doing right now.

Twitter now stands in the shadow of Plurk, while Jaiku still pretty much stands its own ground, despite being neglected by its new master for so long.

Google “get” Social Networking?

Back in December 2007, I talked about how Jaiku, along with Google Reader and Docs could support Knols:

“And out of these two applications, Google could create quite a compelling strategy to help make Knols more appealing to the disaffected or would-be content editors out there.”

Let’s face it, micro-blogging is now a valid and much more convenient method of blogging for a lot of people, including myself.

But what if Google have gone one further, transforming Jaiku into the heart of their Social Networking strategy?

“Rumor has it that this Google acquisition hasn’t been abandoned like everyone currently believes. On a recent episode of TWiT, Steve Gillmor said that he talked to Jaiku co-founder, Jyri Engeström, who is apparently very busy moving Jaiku to the Google app engine…and embedding Jaiku presence throughout everything in the Google universe.”

As an idea, it’s very much the kind of thing they should have done ages ago. Even with Google’s might and large user base, adoption isn’t a given, so Google would have to find ways of massaging Jaiku into their various services in such a way that we wouldn’t be entirely aware of using a distinct Social Network.

And by combining Jaiku with their Social Graph, Google have all of the ingredients for a self-organizing Social Network, one that finds friends for you, based on your many associations, memberships and social profiles.

I and a few others have been handing out invites left, right and centre for over week out on Plurk, so there’s clearly some interest. But 20-30 invites isn’t exactly a stampede of interest and not entirely representative of a trend.

A recurring theme of mine is Google not getting Social Media, or Social Networking for that matter. So I’d be thrilled if they were to offer some evidence to the contrary, by giving Jaiku a new lease of life and everyone else a much smarter lifestream…

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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.