Twitter and Jaiku – New additions to the cyber cultural stew

(originally posted to my cyber-anthro community on LJ April 18, 2007)

What am I talking about? What is Twitter and Jaiku and why should a cyber anthropologist be interested? How about a way to keep up with people, talk to people, cyber stalk people, and lurk a never ending sms feed where each ‘post’ is in 140 characters or less. One thing of interest here is it blurs the lines between the ‘net’ and phone texting, pulling mobile phones and their use more and more into the realm of cyber anthropology as they become another cultural tool through applications such as these.

Though I’ve lumped these two applications together because their nominal function is much in the same, there has recently been a large ‘surface’ cultural shift from twitter to jaiku as you can see when doing a google search for the terms. A few big names have made their move from Twitter to Jaiku public and that has caused the blogosphere to notice these applications and now their tug-of-war a bit more. While it is not the technology we focus on as anthropologists, I find it interesting what attracts people to one scene over another as well as how people move online and where their nomadic inclinations take them. I believe this fight will likely come down to community over ‘features’, but that may be the anthropologist in me talking.

I am not going to say this is the next big cyber cultural ‘thing’, however, I do think applications such as these that incorporate both the use of computers (browsers/IMs) and phones (texting/sms) are definitely what the masses are attracted to and for good reason. For those who ‘live’ online, if you can be anywhere with anyone and still in contact with everyone else in a very no strings attached to any one person sort of way, why wouldn’t you?