PLN: Some Thoughts on the Twitter vs. Plurk Debate

OK, I am not an early adopter when it comes to most things tech.  I need to see it used a little while to make sure it is worth my time.  Such was my introduction to Twitter.  I first saw it on Steve Dembos Teach42 blog.  He and David Warlick and David Jakes were kicking around some small tweets about what they were doing right then.  It was cute.  It was fuzzy.  It was a small soap opera.  But it wasn’t for me.

Later, when I began to see that people were actually having conversations in Twitter I decided to take the plunge.  At first, I posted funny little things and some small snippets of what I was doing right then.  Nearly 2,000 posts later my use of Twitter (and now Plurk) have changed somewhat.

For the record, Twitter is my first love when it comes to microblogging, so I may be just a tad prejudiced in my comparison of the two.  Kind of like the name of my first girlfriend in 3rd grade.  I’ve forgotten the names of most of the 5 or 6 girls I’ve dated in my life, but Ellen T. sticks with me to this day. (Could it be possible she is now a DEN STAR member and reading this blog? Naaa).

I like Twitter.  I follow just over 250 people.  About the same number follow me.  In Plurk I have less than 50 friends and fans.  I find I pay attention to about as much information from each source.  There are less than two dozen people I really “read” on a daily basis.

Twitter has become my source for tech resources and help.  I’ve watched others, like myself, ask techie questions to our friends on Twitter and within minutes several answers will come through.  You can say, “Hi!” from a presentation and many will respond almost immediately to say hello back to your attendees.

The downside to Twitter is that it does not auto update to show you new feeds.  For that I use an app like Twhirl (which is not blocked by my school filters either…big plus!).  It is also harder to follow attempts at conversations.  They are usually limited to the two people actually engaged.  The rest of us begin to sort of tune them out.

I also took a while to start using Plurk (Karma at 45+ and rising now, thank you very much).  At NECC, many of the people I was following on Twitter jumped ship and began using Plurk due to Twitter’s nasty habit of breaking any time more than a million people were online at one time or something.  After a while, many (like me) decided using both may be advantageous.

While Twitter is my source for techie type conversations (and following a few local people I’ve never met, but now really love), Plurk offers more of a platform for dialogue.  Its timeline layout takes a little getting used to, but once you settle in, you find many people in conversations about one topic.

Not a lot of political conversations start in Twitter, but there are a LOT going on in Plurk.  Some I like and some I don’t, but I find myself engaged in some way that I didn’t find on Twitter.

Plurk doesn’t notify you by email that someone is following you, so to the 15 people I’ve been waiting on to accept my friendship I say, “Hey! Check the alert box in the top left corner of your screen and do some accepting.  I’m trying to raise Karma here for gosh sakes.”  While it does auto update to tell me I’ve got Plurks I haven’t read  yet, there doesn’t seem to be an outside app that works with Plurk, so it is blocked at school.  Maybe that’s why Twitter has become more tech oriented and Plurk more personal. Hmm.

So, to those trying to decide which way is better for your PLN (Personal Learning Network), I say give both a try.   Find a few people you know and follow them for a while.  You may like one more than the other, or you may choose to use both interchangeably.

For me, Twitter tends to answer more of my questions related to Web 2.0, troubleshooting, cool new videos on YouTube, great new websites that will help my classes and more.  Plurk tends to allow me to engage more with the same people on a more personal level.

Which one do you like best and why?

My username for both Twitter and Plurk is simply tchilders.  Look me up!


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  1. Lori said:

    I like plurk to help follow threads of conversations better. I can go back an read through the thread and understand better the plurks. With twitter, sometimes I have to go look at a friends timeline to figure out their last tweet. And sometimes, the tweets don’t even show up or show up much later. I like twitter, because some of my PLN aren’t plurking yet and I learn a lot from my PLN. I especially like when good resources are shared and when I get answers to questions. Of course I also try to share myself and answer and support others in both places.

  2. Tim Childers said:

    I agree that Plurk conversations are easier to follow and join. To that end, Plurk doesn’t really fit the question, “What are you doing right now?” does it? It is more like, “What do you want to talk about today?” That changes the dynamics entirely. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Becky said:

    I am a Twitter bug, but I haven’t delved into Plurk that much. Maybe I should try.

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