Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Beyond Twitter: Mobile Microblogging Meets RSS Aggregator - A Beginner's Guide To Jaiku

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Mobile instant messaging tools have evolved rapidly in the first half of this year into always-on micro-blogging applications. But while Twitter might let you tell the world what you're doing, Jaiku goes a step further by serving as a mobile RSS aggregator.


Creating an online presence and sharing it with friends is not only a great way of keeping in touch, but also an excellent means of promoting your business, website, blog or just yourself. Increasingly, however, we make use of a vast range of tools and services to manage our online media. We might upload our photos to Flickr, our videos to YouTube and post our current whereabouts using Dopplr or even Twitter.

Which is all well and good, but keeping our contacts in the loop about the latest updates to each can be a hassle. Without a doubt RSS is the answer - and if you haven't cottoned on to why yet, you would do well to check out Lee Lefever's excellent video introduction. RSS lets anyone keep tabs on a vast range of websites all at once, receiving updates every time new content is added.

What's cool about Jaiku is that it combines the ability to send out messages to your friends and contacts with your personal stream of RSS feeds - whether on your computer or out and about using your mobile phone. This is a great way of alerting your contacts - and being alerted by them - as to all of the latest goings on in your online life, regardless of how many services you might be subscribed to.

Introducing Jaiku


Like it's simpler, more popular cousin Twitter, Jaiku is all about sending out brief SMS-sized messages to your contacts, or the Jaiku-using public. Where a blog post, for instance, might be anywhere from a few lines to several pages of text, Jaiku and Twitter posts are limited to 140 characters. This makes them perfect for regular succinct broadcasting of events in your life, links to websites or pithy observations.

Both center around the building of friend groups, or social networks, with whom you will exchange these messages. For those looking to promote their work, then, the more contacts you build up, the greater the reach of your message. For others, on the other hand, this is simply an easy way to let friends or colleagues know what you're doing or thinking at any given point in time.

What Jaiku adds to this equation is the ability to import RSS feeds and automatically post information gathered from them. So, for example, if you were to give Jaiku the RSS feed for your Flickr or YouTube account, every time you added a new photo-set or video, Jaiku would automatically alert your contacts about it without you having to do a thing.

This is a very useful addition to the basic Twitter messaging functionality, and will be of a lot of use to those that publish content of whatever type to the web. For bloggers, it is an all but essential way to promote their latest post to the public.

The basics

This process of sending out alerts about your online (publishing) life has been dubbed 'lifestreaming' by some and 'micro-blogging' by others, but the net effect is the same. It is a way of easily gathering your entire digital output into one place and making it easy for people to follow.

And that's just from a web-publishing or media-sharing perspective.

If you turn the idea on its head, Jaiku also presents you with a great way of keeping tabs on the latest blog posts, podcasts and videos being published to the web, along with up-to-the-minute news headlines, whether you are at home, or receiving updates on your mobile.

If it has a feed - and almost any website worth the time of day does these days - then you can follow it, on your desktop, or on your mobile phone.

Getting started


At its simplest you can use Jaiku just as you might Twitter, or the SMS function of your mobile phone - for sending out short messages to friends or to a so-called public timeline. This is as easy as tapping your message into your phone, the browser version of Jaiku, or using a third-party application or client, such as the one available for Facebook.

Your post will then appear in the public timeline - if you have allowed this in your privacy settings - and will also appear in the Jaiku stream of any of your contacts from the service. Your contacts can then respond to you directly using a reply button at the bottom of the post, which is an improvement over Twitter, where there is no such feature.

Should you be happy with that you need never make use of the other features of Jaiku. However, if you really want to get the best out of the service you will venture over to the settings for your account and start adding feeds.

The sky is the limit here. Jaiku makes it very easy to import your photo, video, bookmark, music and video sharing services, along with where you are, the events you are attending and anything else you can squeeze into an RSS feed. What I particularly like is that you don't even have to know the web address for your feeds - simply give Jaiku the URL of your blog, Flickr account or whatever it is you want it to track, and it will find and ask you to approve any feeds associated with that page.

In a very short span of time you can have all of your favorite news sources, podcasts, videos and friends' messages pouring into your Jaiku stream, and keeping you alerted as to the very latest happenings in your personal online universe. This is a great way of keeping on top of breaking news, or of being the first to know about the latest cool viral video.

Accessing Jaiku


You can access Jaiku in one or more of the following ways:

  • Web - Via the Jaiku websie
  • Desktop - There are a good few desktop clients that you can use to manage your Jaiku account, notably Juhu on the Mac and Jay-Q for Windows
  • Mobile - Either using SMS, or if you have a compatible phone, theJaiku mobile client
  • RSS - From a strictly receiving point of view, you can take an RSS feed of your Twitter messages and use it in the reader or application of your choice

So, while the mobile client is limited to a particular group of Nokia phones, there are nevertheless a good many ways of accessing your Jaiku presence.

How People Are Using Jaiku


How you choose to use Jaiku will ultimately depend upon the specific needs you are trying to fulfill. At present you can see the service being used in a number of ways, including:

  • Straightforward lifestreaming. For many Jaiku is a simple way to share what is happening in their day at short, regular intervals.

    As Jaiku is capable of transmitting automatically the music that you are currently listening to, or letting your friends know when you have just uploaded your holiday pictures, in addition to your hand-typed messages, this can be a great tool for just keeping in touch.

  • News monitoring. While many people now use a feed reader to keep on top of the incoming news, this can quickly become unmanageable and produce more news than you might ever have time to read.

    By subscribing to the most important news sources from your list and having them feed into Jaiku, you can be sure that you will always catch the really hot news, even if you are out and about

  • Project management. If you want to keep a close eye on a project as it develops, especially if it is web-based, Jaiku lets you see exactly how things are moving along, blow-by-blow, even if you are away from your desk.

    Let's say you are managing web content - as each update or upload takes place, you are instantly in the know.

  • Social media marketing


    Social media marketing takes PR to the next level and taps into the rich streams of viral media online. If you are looking to promote yourself, your blog, your online content or your business, Jaiku is one among several tools you can use to reach out and expand your presence.

    And by making use of a Jaiku 'badge' that you can customize to the look of your website or blog, you can consolidate your mobile presence there, and allow your site visitors another inroad to your content

Jaiku Vs. Twitter


Whichever way you look at it, the reasons that people love or loathe Jaiku fundamentally come down to comparisons made between Jaiku and Twitter. While you certainly don't have to choose between the two - as they actually play nicely together - there are going to be people who will decide to go one way or the other.

Here is a quick comparison between the two:


In terms of interface design, both Twitter and Jaiku have gone for a minimalist simplicity that puts the messaging function center stage. From either website, you are presented with a readily identifiable box to enter your message into, and a stream of previous postings beneath.

Both services allow you to customize the look of your personal page by adding a background or changing the background colour, and while this is is basic it can make a difference.

Jaiku just wins out with the inclusion of a reply button underneath each post, allowing you to specifically respond to a certain point. Twitterers have to simply use up some of those precious 140 characters to address their post to the person they wish to reply to.


While both are minimal in features and design, however, Twitter wins hands down in terms of simplicity. Certainly Jaiku doesn't require a degree in rocket science to conquer, but Twitter by virtue of its very tight focus is the ultimate minimal tool.

Detractors of Jaiku bemoan its complexity when compared to the very basic message-centered functionality of Twitter. If you want bare-bones, Twitter does win out, but by a narrow margin.


What Jaiku loses in simplicity, it gains in features, and the inclusion of feeds certainly puts it a head above Twitter in functionality. If you add to this the ability to reply to specific feeds and make use of public, niche-themed discussion channels, Jaiku is the clear victor in this department.

External support

While Jaiku does have some add-ons and enhancements available, its fuller basic feature-set and lower market penetration mean that it lags behind Twitter in the area of external support.

Twitter, on the other hand has a host of third-party tools and services far too numerous to list here. As such, Twitter takes the lead in terms of how easy it is to expand and build upon.


While Jaiku has a much better organized community, with niche-targeted channels that serve as Jaiku-powered message-board-cum-chat-rooms, Twitter has a significantly higher user-base. As such, if you are looking for maximum exposure and reach, at the time of writing, you really should include Twitter on your list of key web tools and services.

That said, Jaiku is slowly gaining ground, and the introduction of a third key player into the market, in the form of Pownce may mean that the balance is somewhat upset in the coming months.

In this short (4" 25) video by Tinu Abayomi-Paul you get a good idea of the differences between the two services:

VideoJug: Jaiku Vs Twitter

In short, if you do have the time both Jaiku and Twitter have a lot to offer, and if you consider the fact that you can bring your Twitter feed directly into Jaiku, it suddenly becomes a little less daunting to think about taking both services on.



With all of the buzz around Twitter, and the recent hyped-up release of Pownce it is easy to overlook their full-featured European counterpart Jaiku.

The fact is, however, that Jaiku is a great complement to Twitter rather than the competitor it is so often portrayed as. By allowing both the simple 140 max characters messaging limit that Twitter is so well known for, but also focusing on RSS feeds, Jaiku takes a different approach. Because while Twitter is great for posting quick updates and sharing links, Jaiku gives you a way to easily broadcast your entire online life to your contacts, or even the public.

In a matter of minutes you can have Jaiku ready to tap into your blog feed, your photo-sharing account, your video publishing destination of choice, and yes, even your Twitter stream. What this means is that if you are an active user of YouTube, Flickr,, Twitter and maybe, or whichever services you personally use, Jaiku has you covered.

Without even having to write a single post or comment, every time you add new photos, write a new blog post, add a Tweet to your Twitter account or upload a new video to YouTube, Jaiku will let your friends, or the Jaiku-using public, know all about it.

This is a great way of getting the word out and publicizing your online content, and that's before you take into account the fact that Jaiku also has essentially the same messaging (and mobile) capabilities as Twitter, along with niche-interest channels that you can subscribe to and participate in.

In short, unless you are in serious danger of information overload, or like to lead a particularly private, sheltered online life, Jaiku is a great way to broadcast your presence to the world, and keep tabs on your contacts latest publishing efforts while you're about it.

Additional Resources

If you would like to learn more about Jaiku, you might want to check out the following links:

Originally written by Michael Pick for MasterNewMedia and titled: "Mobile Instant Messaging Meets RSS Aggregator: A Beginner's Guide To Jaiku"

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Readers' Comments    
2007-07-04 03:39:30


I actually do my lifecasting in Tumblr:

And another service that I found interesting is Hictu:
which lets you import your RSS but doesn't create RSS ..... weird .... but more importantly, allows for quick short video postings a la twitter.

posted by Michael Pick on Wednesday, July 4 2007, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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