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Today one of Russia’s largest internet companies Mail.ru launched what looks like an open beta of Futubra, the Russian microblogging service and an equivalent of Twitter. Or Tumblr? Or both? I am confused.
Futurba combines Twitter’s conciseness with Tumblr’s ability to post multimedia content. Except for the number of characters: Futubra gives us 200 characters instead of the usual 140. I am lost for words already.
Tumblr functionality of posting photos and videos directly into the newsfeed is cute, but scrolling for news and useful updates through excessive photos of topless models is tedious (the models are exclusively female). I have probably followed the wrong set of people, and the process of following is not so straight-forward. I hope that Futubra team will improve how it displays information about its users. For example, it offers the list of the popular users but provides no description other than the user’s name and an avatar. This seems useless for a blogger looking to follow companies, real people and other news sources.
Users can “like” the posts, a.k.a. tweets on Twitter. The “likes” are counted, just like on Tumblr. Yet, unlike Tumblr or Twitter, Futubra allows commenting on post. Resulting noise is overwhelming.
Futubra also has groups, which look like chat rooms, or LinkedIn Groups where users discuss various subjects, add comments and show “likes” to those who follow the group. The user can also add an event, or show that he is bored (his followers are notified).
I have been using Twitter quite actively to follow news from tech startups in Eastern Europe, and other news from selected sources. Conciseness is what I like about it: quick short phrases and sentences complemented with links for a bigger picture. I think Tumblr is nice, but practically I would only use it as a regular blog: by adding a link to the Google Reader and adding “+1” when I like it.
My little survey today on a new Q&A service Beepl (another launch of the day I wrote about on TechCrunch), showed that people see Twitter mainly as a broadcasting mechanism with an in-built engagement option. The blog of Social Media Scientist Dan Zarella shows a result of another mini-research, where 100 000 random tweets that began with @ were analyzed. It concludes in assigning Twitter the role for broadcasting for 60 to 80 per cent of the time.
I think Futubra is yet to decide what it wants to be: a place for sharing stuff, a chat room 2.0 or a broadcasting tool. During the first day of Futubra’s public launch, media habitually shared the links (both Slon and Komsomolskaya Pravda were there), funny guys posted jokes, and the chatter of the strangers continued late into the night. Finally, a user with an intriguing name “twitter” followed most of Futubra’s new users.
Futubra has great plans. On the sign-up page it explained itself as a “quick way to share interesting content with the whole world”. In Russian. The world should better start learning Russian then.
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vita at goaleurope dot com