January 8, 2008 0

Pownce : Initial Impressions

By Deepak in Web

In between recovering from an early morning tennis game and all the oats I had for breakfast I decided to register an account and explore Pownce. Even though it has been available since June this year, I only read about it after googling a funny word I saw in the Twitter timeline. Despite all this alleged hype, big names, popular services blah and blah … all the computer people I know are oblivious of its existence; which either indicates we all, despite subscribing to tonnes of feeds, managed to miss it or, even its hype was hyped.

When I did visit the site and request an invitation … the explanations and all were quite straight forward, very neat, attractive even … though with the exception of the social component and type independent file transfer I had a hard time discerning any real difference between Pownce and Tumblr. Tumblr has working for it:

  • Its very nice advert-free public space
  • Its ability to link an account to a domain really removes any need to develop a personal website (unless you’re a developer or want comments ^_^)
  • You don’t need to pay $20 to create your own theme

Pownce on the other hand:

  • Has the whole social aspect friends, fans, they already capitalise on this offering a lot of user/social oriented functions will probably add more
  • Better organised, better interface, waaay better ready made themes
  • The mobile thing for the discriminating microblogger
  • Interactive options ala comment/replies
  • Privacy … ish, the whole splitting people into groups, public pages etc

Now they also have an app built on Adobe AIR which leverages their api so you can pownce sans going to the website. Now I think the AIR framework is a wonderful thing, really makes it easy to make desktop apps that use web apis … but seriously why aren’t people already doing this with applets, or swing apps even. Its like all the competent Java programmers are not interested and the rest are either unaware or just plain lazy. So many sites could have pushed desktop apps that are inherently platform independent (and no Chris you have to really screw up to get varied results in different OSs) .. but noooo you wait for an entirely new framework and then push an app using it, while the thing is still in its beta stage, but I digress. Though on that note, when I downloaded the latest version of AIR, the pownce app didn’t work, you have to uninstall the latest, install the older version; beta 2 I think, then if you want, install the latest on top of it … otherwise the thing won’t work. It won’t even install.

Once I actually logged on and began to compare the features in Tumblr to Pownce, the latter is far far superior … it a veritable smorgasboard of options while letting the whole social thing integrate very nicely. Something to be expected by a site that markets itself as ‘by geeks for geeks’ or was it to send files between cubicles … actually the conflicting stories about the inspiration for this service curiously seems to be mentioned in most posts I came across. It’s really a moot point, but meh. The site is a wonderful amalgam of many existing community/social participation sites. The problem is it is just that. Why would anyone want to log into yet another site to essentially either spread yourself thin, or be redundant? It is actually much better than most sites and I would prefer to be using it, but the staggered registration availability really does not work on a social site. Since the social links here aren’t as casual as they are on … say Twitter, and since it duplicates features, it does integrate well into other social sites. Of course Facebook can have yet another wall application that mimics and integrates Pownce, but I wonder how much more clutter they can make a profile seem with the comments. The sheer quantity of crap circulated on the advance and super walls have actually made so many of my friends profiles too depressing to visit … but that’s a rant for another day ^_^. Right now though, there is no reason to switch to Pownce, unless you are just getting into the web thing …its much nicer place to start.

I couldn’t finish without mentioning their business model. To be honest, it is quite patronising to call it a business model. They, as most others, give you a public profile and charge you for not putting adverts on it … which well is common sense. The whole making money seems to be such a big deal, you get the impression they were slaving till three in the morning scratching their beards (cue Tony with his Eddie Izzard impression) coming up with it. Of course should you choose to pay the twenty dollars for the pro account, they deface you profile picture with the ugly olive-brown sash place in a corner with the word ‘Pro’ written on it … they market it as a ‘cool badge’ … ten thousand years of pain to the guy that took communications in college. I exaggerate … adverts just are a pet peeve of mine. The standard ubiquitous Google advert frame is actually quite innocuous; the only problem is, they go through all the trouble of creating these elaborate background patterns and then placing the very plain frame on top of it so it actually appears in the way. Facebook can get away with their flashier adverts because on the plain white background you really ignore them … this however … justifies all the hate I direct towards it.

Hopefully as the user base grows and all, using Pownce might seem like a good idea. Right now, the initial coasting on the celebrity of its founders isn’t a bad thing. Though considering the mechanics of social sites and my woefully pathetic online profile, if I do manage to acquire two random friends on Pownce, I’m making a permanent move to it immediately. What can I say… even their 404 message cooler. ^_^

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