Thursday, November 13, 2008

Teh Road to Plurk Nirvana~

Nirvana (noun)*
A term used in Hinduism, the native religion of India and third largest religion in the world behind Christianity and Islam. Hinduists believe that a person reincarnates until they achieve an understanding of the relationship between God(known by Bhrama or Atman) and man. The state at which this is achieved is known as nirvana, and person who has achieved this is known as a guru. It is believed that once nirvana is achieved, a person will achieve the aftelife, rather than reincarnating. (credits to Urban Dictionary for this definition)

But for those who had been using, Nirvana means a different thing entirely.

The Plurk environment, courtesy of the default friend, Plurk Buddy. is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that allows users to send updates (otherwise known as plurks) through short messages or links, which can be up to 140 text characters in length.

Updates are then shown on the user's home page using a timeline which lists all the updates received in chronological order, and delivered to other users who have signed up to receive them. Users can respond to other users' updates from their timeline through the website, by instant messaging, or by text messaging. (Credits to my beloved, for this definition)

Basically, Plurk is Social Networking and Instant Messaging combined. Kinda like an open chatroom where anyone can pop in and give their two cents. A plurk post starts with a single random topic that any users think of, and others can give their opinion about it or not. It could be a simple "Good Morning" or as short as a simple smiley or emoticon.

What you need to remember is that Plurk is ruled by the Rule of karma. No, not the religious type of Karma principle that all the things you do will haunt you in your next life. But another kind of karma. Here at Plurk, if you remain active in posts, keep your profile updated, or just plain keep your account alive, Plurk gives you a number of points called karma. The higher the karma, the more perks you get. For example, reaching 10+ karma points enables you to change your Page title. When you get to 25+, you get additional smileys. And so on.

Registration is free and easy, and you get additional points for inviting a friend over. You can add up people to be your friend or just a plain fan, and you can also gain awards for the number of friends you've invited and the number of fans you have on the list.

Pros: You can easily earn plurk karma just by remaining active in the site. I've been in Plurk for two months already, and I'm already reaching 60+. When you reach an 81+ up to 100 karma, that's when you reach the desired Plurk Nirvana. The template can also be easily changed, and bookmarking of each entry is easy since you just have to remember a certain date and browse it.

Cons: Hmmm... a lot actually...
First issue, privacy. Though you can turn your whole Plurk account to private, there is still a possibility that the whole world can see your plurks if you haven't set that plurk to private. Which leads to the second issue...

Second issue, random friends/fans. Since your plurk is public, EVERYONE IN PLURK, even those without plurk accounts, can see your plurk. This also means that EVERYONE has the option to add you as their friend. I was able to randomly add myself as a fan to some plurkers, which is similar to "bookmarking" that certain user. Therefore, I get regular feeds of their public plurks. Sounds like a stalker, right? But that's just the fan mode. If you become a friend, you can get access to the private plurks as well (if the user permits it).

Third issue, the Plurk timeline. This horizontal moving timeline shows you everything, including the feeds from the plurks you subscribed as a fan. So what's the bad deal with that? There are no indications (color, tab, etc.) that differentiates between the plurk of your friends and those you've subscribed to. Hence, the confusion. Everyday, I have the problem of sorting out through various plurk entries trying to figure out which one is my fan subscription and which are from my friends. Seriously, if you have a short term memory like me, the ever changing usernames and avatar doesn't really help. Maybe if the usernames were italicized or colored, just to differentiate one from the other, I will not make the same mistake again of replying to a stranger's plurk (I'm so sorry for those people who thinks of me as rude!).

Lastly, Plurk is boring without friends. Randomly putting up pieces of your life there without anyone responding is like talking to a wall. If you want to enjoy Plurk, gather up your friends. Without them, you'll end up lurking other random plurkers who may get pissed when you suddenly butt in their conversations.

So why do I still log-in every single day and keep my karma up? I don't know. Perhaps to remain connected with those around me. Or perhaps I want to reach nirvana. But frankly, plurk is addicting for those who want to keep in touch. So if you want to get updated, get yourself plurking.