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Variations on a meme

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Going local

Jiwai.de is no easy C2C rip-off Twitter. This site is fully local. Not sold on the idea? Let's take a look at some hard stats:

  • As I've mentioned in previous Mind the Gap Saturdays, Chinese IM people are mostly users of MSN/Windows Live Messenger and QQ. Jiwai.de seems to know those locals off by heart: supported IM protocols include not just QQ and MSN, but also GTalk, Skype (yes), Shuimu Community (a university community), Yahoo!, and even Facebook (although I've never really tried that with much success, and my Twitter app on Facebook broke not long ago)
  • There's a short code for mobile users: you can send your updates to a local number and be charged only CNY 0.10 (that's just over a US cent, and less than a penny in the UK) per message. Sweet, and cheap, given updates to Twitter cost 10 times that much (it has to go to the UK)
  • Here's a big sign that Jiwai.de is in the local game for the long run: there's an option to update your Jiwai.de notes onto Twitter. You read that right: your Jiwai.de updates now have a home on your Twitterfeeds too (and Twitter knows they're from Jiwai.de; there's a little "acknowledgement link" with every tweet. Sweet)

Attitudes in microblogging

How big is microblogging? Maybe not that big in China - remember, most of us here are a bit more reserved than the laowai lost in foreign lands. Views about microblogging are more on the side of "this invades my privacy", "I'm not the kind of guy to tell the World I just had cucumber for lunch", or "I'm so bored that I started microblogging".

In fact, yours truly got to see just how big microblogging is even in the expat community in Beijing. When the recent Blognation China launch party got underway, one of the first questions asked was: "Do you have a Twitter account?" Apart from yours truly, nary a hand went up. Maybe not the most scientific analysis - we did, after all, have about 16 people only - but it kind of shows how Twitter's doing in Beijing.

But there are a few celebrities made because they're tweeting along. Carol Lin from Taiwan is one. She has about 800 followers (that's a lot of people actually), and she's been approached by some companies to do a little promo. The tweets from the "Chairman Mao of the 21st Century", Chinese pioneer blogger Isaac Mao, is another one. His tweets have even hit the foreign press.

And yours truly? Hey, he doesn't mind the extra attention - but then again, he doesn't tweet for a living. As long as the tweeting-along minds its own gap between being something fun and being a privacy intruder, things will be fine.

Next on Mind the Gap Saturday: Just how close are Facebook and Xiaonei? Be sure to Mind the Gap again next time!

Copyright © 2007, Blognation.com.

This article first appeared on Blognation.

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