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Evan Williams is my Tamagotchi

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By Narendra Rocherolle

I have become a bit of a Web2.0 junkie. Why not? For product development and innovation, there haven’t been so many new things happening since 1995. I mean *big* things, like, “Wow, you can animate a gif file! This changes everything!” big. All these new toys are delivered daily by an incredibly efficient distribution systems like GigaOM, TechCrunch, digg, et. al.

My most recent fascination is with the genre of nanoblogging–new publication services centered around small bursts of information about your location, presence, mood, etc.

The most visible of these is dodgeball (now part of Google) and the latest is twitter. These services pose a bit of a challenge for those reporting on them because they are at least “conceived” with a younger demographic in mind which almost precludes someone a bit older from actually “getting it.”

Being over 30, I simply don’t traverse the real-world social landscape with the same energy, nor do I have a posse in tow ready to meet up at the next dodgeball check in. It turns out, that hasn’t stopped me using dodgeball.

Before I hit an SMS irritation threshold with the few friends I had on dodgeball I discovered that although I was never going to use the service to sync up in real time with them, they were acting as great filters. I was getting checkins from coffee shops and restaurants around San Francisco that I had either never heard or hadn’t tried. It turns out to be a painless way to track a hipster, stay current, and find recommendations!

Twitter is less structured than dodgeball focusing on capturing moods and moments during the day and sharing them with a circle of friends–a bloggy chat to go! For those who see their mobile phone exclusively for utility, twitter may quickly become a nag. I have a higher threshold than most for new toys and was rewarded with the discovery of an entirely new use case.

I don’t really know Evan Williams. I’ve chatted once or twice with him and exchanged email. I know he founded Blogger but I have never done anything with him socially. His latest company Odeo is also behind twitter and though I couldn’t coax my inner circle into trying something new, I added Evan as a friend. The updates started flowing and I ignored them at first. Slowly, I started processing the 4-5 messages I was getting each day:

“having a vegan scramble”

Hmm. I wonder if Ev is a vegan.

I am driving down the 101 and my phone begins to buzz.

“exploring the web’s seedy underbelly”


“heading south in a van”

Whose van? Where is Ev going today?

I am now hooked. Evan is my Tamagotchi. I have no idea what he is going to do next and quite honestly, I find that fascinating. Heck, if there were celebrities twittering, there might be full-fledged business in the making. ;-)

Narendra Rocherolle is co-founder of 30Boxes and Webshots. He writes Nosoapradio, and just for fun participates in endurance events.

22 Responses to “Evan Williams is my Tamagotchi”

  1. Hey! What’s with the age thing? I’m 52 and I don’t see anywhere on Twitter or Odeo, or even this site that I don’t ‘get’. Bloody younger generation. Evan Williams seems to have quite an ability – somewhat more I suspect than most of these posters. (And by the way – the lawyer getting $100 an hour – you’re either no good or don’t have any experience; mine charges $300 an hour, and I’m still here on the outside)

  2. Woah. These comments are not only harsh, they’re way off base. My guess is that most of the commenters here are not in the 20-30 “social” demographic. The fascination Narendra describes with seeing what another person is up to in their life could be THE driving force behind entertainment this decade. Look no further than social networking sites, reality television, and the like — regardless of anyone’s feelings on their value to society. Further,facebook’s new feature capitalizes on the very same drivers that Narendra discussed.

    In my book, that’s 1 point for Narendra –.

  3. Jesse Kopelman

    Narendra, the problem with the Tamagotchi analogy is where is the interactivity? With a Tamagotchi you would decide when and what it would eat, not just get a report on it. What you have with Odeo is more like the SMS equivalent of one of VH1’s CelebReality programs. You care what Williams does because you have a vague idea of who he is not because you have a vested interest in his wellfare, like you would with a Tamagotchi.

  4. Mike D:

    Wrong. There is no reason to be compassionate to a weekend guest poster. It is well known that GigaOm is trying to make money as a blog. GigaOm will not make moneey if it doesn’t have eyeballs. Eyeballs pay attention. What is the cost? How much does one pay when attention is paid? If I am a lawyer and my hourly rate is $100 an hour, and if I spend 10 minutes a day reading GigaOm, then I have (lost) paid GigaOm $16 of my time.

    If the Wall St. Journal has an article about Evan Williams sky diving would I complain? You bet I would. In fact not only do I pay attention to the WSJ but I also pay an annual subscription of $79.

    If GigaOM is to succeed as a commercial venture, there has to be much more compelling posts than about what little Evan Williams is doing on a weekend joy ride in van. Even Bill Gates, you don’t see the Wall St. Journal saying, “Bill Gates is our Tamagotchi and he took his kids and Melinda swimming a few days ago … oh wow, isn’t this the news you wanted to know about?”

    I’ve already paid too much to attention writing this message and in fact GigaOm should be happy to have such feedback (most people don’t take the time to post feedback but I happen to like most of what GigaOm writes about so I do find value in providing Om Malik with feedback that will make him successful so that I can continue to enjoy what is for the most part good content!”

  5. To this post today I say “ho hum”. Evan Williams may have created Blogger to his credit, but he has yet to prove himself with Odeo and prove that he’s not merely a one-hit wonder! Really, who cares what he is doing, especially if it does not affect a person’s economic well being. This sounds lime more dot com fluff but in a different context a decade later.