Friday, August 1, 2008

Twitter v. Plurk: A Newbie Review

This past summer I completed on online learning experience (via my District) called "23Things." This professional development course was derived (loosely) from 43Things and a Stephen Abram article titled "43Things I Might Want to do This Year" (Information Outlook - Feb 2006). Through this opportunity I learned about a number of Web2.0 tools. In addition to learning how to use these tools, I was challenged to find innovative ways of incorporating them into my classroom/teaching. Two of the tools I was introduced to were Plurk and Twitter.

Both Plurk and Twitter are "free social networking and micro-blogging services that allow users to send updates, which are text-based posts of up to 140 characters in length" (definition quoted from Wikipedia). Let's take a look at each service first and then compare the pros and cons of each...

The user interface for Plurk includes a 'timeline' that lists both your plurks (messages) and those of the people you 'follow.' You can search for people to follow by clicking on the "My Friends" tab at the top of the Plurk window. You can also review "interesting plurkers" by clicking on that navigation button (also located at the top of the Plurk window. Plurk also includes a "Karma" feature that more or less tracks your behavior and activity...the better your behavior/activity the higher your karma--high karma unlocks specials user features, like emoticons and different backgrounds, etc. Here's a picture of the Plurk Window:
The user interface for Twitter displays a 'message list' of all of your twitters (messages) and those of the people you 'follow.' As with Plurk, you can find and follow friends by clicking on the 'Find & Follow' navigation button at the top of the Twitter window. No Karma stuff least I couldn't find anything like that. Here's a picture of the Twitter window:
Registering: It's really easy (and free) to register for Plurk and Twitter. What's more, you can easily add either of them to your mobile device; a great way to keep up with your friends (colleagues, collaborators, etc).

Adding Friends: When adding friends, both sites allow you to add via email and/or instant messaging forums; however, Twitter will allow you to search by name only. I really like this feature--as a Web2.0 newbie, I want the opportunity to connect with as many teachers as possible. I collected some names from my favorite teacher blog (CoolCatTeacher), from my own Blogroll, and from a YouTube video of this year's Edublogger's conference (click here for video). I then typed those names into the Twitter name search and voila! I found some of the people that I want to both follow and learn from...I can't find that option on Plurk (although it may be there).

Finding/Following Friends: Twitter makes it easier to find/follow friends (JMHO). You can request to follow other people's friends on Plurk, too, but it was difficult to figure that out. It's probably in the Help section somewhere, but I haven't found it. I stumbled across the option while devouring the site.

Add ons: Twitter seems to have a ton of different apps (add ons) available--it will take me a while to get through them all to see which ones are applicable to me. I haven't found any add ons for Plurk, yet.

Both Plurk and Twitter are easy to use. They each have unique user interfaces and features. Further, they both serve their purpose--for people to network and stay in touch. Unfortunately, Twitter is already blocked by my district and I am sure the Plurk will be blocked soon. Although I can still access them on my mobile device, it sure makes incorporating this type of micro-blogging (via these two services) almost impossible in the classroom.

I would like to see both Plurk and Twitter add a search feature whereby one can search my interest area (or something similar). I want to connect with as many innovative teachers as I can now that I am learning about all that Web2.0 has to offer. For now, I will continue to comb the blogs I have listed on my blogroll (see the area on the right side of my blog titled "News, Sites, and Blogs I Frequent") looking for additional experts to follow (both on my blog and Twitter/Plurk), thus expanding 'my circle of the wise.'


  1. great! I'll be back! Definitely useful.

  2. I'm glad you like this post, Tracy...this type of social networking is terrific! I hope to continue to build and expand my network of experts utilizing these (and other) networking tools.