Here, there, and everywhere, we have all been talking about Plurk over the last week or so. And while many of us are talking about the site, I think the key point here is that Plurk's emergence could validate the micro-blogging space as a whole.
Twitter, Pownce and Jaiku all offer a somewhat similar layout and functionality, and are more or less aimed at the same crowd. But Plurk is the clear maverick of the micro-blogging camp. It has a funky UI that almost everyone instantly hates. It's supposedly aimed at teens. It has headless animals for mascots and lets you add dancing bananas and dozens of other emoticons in your plurks (messages left on Plurk).
But whether you love or hate Plurk (and there's little wiggle-room), the key takeaway for me is that Plurk has kept the 140-ish character backbone of other micro-blogging sites, but added its own distinctive look and feel. And it's aiming itself at teens (and adults that like to occasionally act like teens!). Plurk has opened the door for the next entrant in this space to target a specific market with a unique layout and functionality.
Which I think goes a long way toward validating the micro-blogging space as a whole. Many people are predictably trying to decide who 'wins'; Twitter or Plurk. In this case, I think they both do. Plurk has a unique look and feel that sets is apart from the rest of the micro-blogging crowd. And Plurk's growth will help expand the possibilities and awareness of the micro-blogging space, which brings more exposure to Twitter, as the dominant player in this space.
As with almost everything else in social media right now, I can't wait to see what comes next! Will we see more competitors in this space emerge that are focused on niche markets with functionality and a UI that's tailored to its target audience? I believe we will, and if we do, we can thank Plurk for holding the door open to what's possible in the micro-blogging space.
BTW if you are new to Plurk and confused as hell over how to navigate the site, I created a sort of primer on Plurk over at The Viral Garden that you might want to check out.
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