As one of a distinct minority who feel that Plurk provides a much more human, conversational experience than does Twitter, I tried to distill my feeling in this area down to a brief quotation way back (lol) in 2008. That quotation still holds true:
Twitter is for announcements; Plurk is for conversations.
I have now been around App.Net for a month or so, having happily paid my way for a year in order to help that growing site along. I have primarily been watching the global stream and looking at the available apps and the API. In the end, I have had to add this experience as a corollary the quotation above:
App.Net is still Twitter, though without the crap and with much better ethics.
We can thus perform a bit of language parsing and run the combined meaning up the logic tree. The result is:
Twitter and App.Net are for announcements; Plurk is for conversations.
That is not a brick thrown at App.Net. I think their model is much more sustainable and infinitely cleaner from an ethical standpoint than is Twitter. Nevertheless, it is still based on the announcement rather than the conversation. Clearly, that is the preferred method of communication for most people. Twitter thrives and Plurk does not, except in Taiwan.
On Twitter and App.Net, one makes an announcement and rarely looks back; conversations are quickly lost in the larger stream. There are targeted replies to a significant number of these announcements, but they are not threaded, nor are they really inclusive. They may be masquerading as conversation, but it is very difficult to see a complete conversation thread, consider the input to date, and then make a comprehensive, logical contribution to the conversation, building a cohesive whole as the conversation develops.
It does not have to be that way, given the data being maintained by the App.Net system and the API available to manipulate it. Although not specifically built for representing threaded conversations, the system could be bent in such a way that it could perform that function, in much the same way that Patter uses the data to divide App.Net posts into a set of separate (public and private) chat rooms. But, sorry, that’s the same technology that brought me into social networking in 1980: the CompuServe CB Simulator. Thus, no cigar.
Nor do I particularly feel like putting together an app that would divide the App.Net data into true conversations, as is done on Plurk. I have fairly effectively given up a life of programming and am learning instead to be a decent user of good code. Now I write mainly fiction. Anyway, were it successful, such an app would probably cause scaling problems which would strain App.Net resources, plus the consideration that App.Net would reap any profits from such a venture.
So, while I love the idea of paid social networking services without the privacy issues of the larger players, I am still looking for a social network that is all that, plus conversational.