The Status Messages Problem

For the last couple years, most of my circle of friends have all signed up for Gmail accounts and hang out on Google Talk. It's much slicker and nicer than Yahoo!, MSN, or AIM, mostly because it's done in a Google smart way. It makes it really easy to contact all my friends because, more often than not, my friends are online, but it does still have its downsides, just like all the other services.

Among my friends, the "status message" has become the mode of communication. A month doesn't go by where some of my friends talk about how much they love that their Google Talk contact list is like a virtual "living room" of their circle of friends across the country, and I agree. It is fun to read everyone's status message, and great to be able to hear what's going on in people's lives or to find out what they're seeing/watching on the Internet.

However, the main problem is that I only really have time to hang out in this "living room" for about 12 hours per week, on average. I have a couple hours on the weeknights of Monday and Tuesday and then some blocks of time on Saturday and Sunday. Almost daily I hear, "Did you hear what was on so-and-so's status message?" Of course I didn't! I was at work! (And no, the management at work wouldn't look kindly upon me chit-chatting it up all day.)

The best way to overcome this problem, in my opinion, is to use a service such as Twitter or Pownce as well as or instead of Google Talk. These services are basically another place to input your current thoughts or goings-on that also includes an archive of statuses. Persons can post comments on your message. Your friends could also get your latest status message sent to their cell phones, if they like. You can download some sort of application that will keep the latest statuses of your friends on the side of your screen, just like Google Talk, if you want. Sure, there's some status messages that are of the moment and not worth having a big archive of, but when someone posts a cool video or interesting article, I'd rather not hear about it three weeks later in a conversation where I'm the only one of 40 people who didn't hear about it. I like this because then I can subscribe to the RSS feed and read about it later that evening or the next day when I have time, and then I can take part in the conversation. If I do come up with a quick thought that I post on my Google Talk status, I always also post it on my Pownce page, whether via the website or the handy little Adobe Air app, because I want you to hear about it even if you're not online at that millisecond.



Twitter can be really easily integrated with google talk. You can have twitter as one of your contacts, and then you can im it a message and it posts it to twitter. Really simple, really nice. I don't have to go to and update there, but I can do it right from the living room.

You've pointed out a need that I was also working on about a month ago. During my allotted creativity time at One:Ten (one of the many many perks of working for One:Ten Communications, Dan! :) I decided to work on a Google Talk bot that would "listen" to my buddy status messages, log them to a database, and then make them available to me as RSS. Unfortunately, my creativity time concluded before the project did, and the current version is not very smart about not hi-jacking my presence and gobbling up messages that people send me. Shouldn't be a big deal to fix, but will take precious time at some point.

Thanks for pointing out your Pownce page! Didn't know you were actively using it. I've now added my Pownce friends feed to Google Reader even though I don't actually use Pownce myself.

Yeah, I wrote a little follow-up over at my place. I agree, it makes a lot of sense to have some kind of online version of the status message that doesn't just disappear when you change it. Not sure why Google itself hasn't come up with a solution to this problem yet.

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