Heal Your Church WebSite

Teaching, rebuking, correcting & training in righteous web design.

The real reason Twitter beat the snot out of Pownce

Twitter gives our mundane lives meaning, that’s why it beat the snot out of a more ‘feature-rich’ Pownce.

To prove my point, let’s rewind about a year and a half ago to Tamar Weinberg’s comparison entitled ‘Twitter vs. Pownce: Who Pwns?‘ Dutifully she does what many of us do while shopping for software, cars, and food processors – she compares and scores the features of one product against another to a conclusion that reads:

Pownce 5, Twitter 3. Pownce wins!

There’s only one problem with that approach, while features may sell a product, it is ultimately functionality that sustains a product; software or otherwise.

Which is why I think Scoble succinctly hits the nail on the head while unwittingly predicting Pownce’s demise in his Twitter vs. Pownce post also from early July 2007:

“But, anyway, I still like Twitter the best. Why? No complications. It does only one thing. I find that on my cell phone I go back to Twitter before I go back to any of the others. It’s lightweight.”

Put another way, when it comes to microblogging, Twitter has it all over Pownce because it makes it easy to do the one thing we all want from microblogging – making the mundane instances of our lives meaningful, while learning new things about our friends without coming off like a stalker.

Disagree as some “new media marketeers” might, the reason we like Twitter is the same reason we fell in love with Blogger, it got out of the way and let us opine reflectively about how our cats would join us in contemplating the lint in our navels.

For example, why anyone would follow my own Twitter page is beyond me, yet some find the fact that I fertilize my lawn in December and enjoy smash-mouth football entertaining and interesting.

And like blogging, Twitter easily allows our friends and relatives to quickly comment at their convenience – only with the excellent 140 character excuse for not engaging in exposition and detailed explanations.

All this while providing others context about ourselves that may not come out in our blogs, lectures, books and top-rated podcasts. This latter point is nicely explained in this 2:25 YouTube video from the good folks at the CommonCraft Show aptly entitled ‘Twitter in Plain English.’

Pownce unfortunately lost sight of these primal purposes for microblogging, and in the process ‘featured-creeped‘ their product to death. Not an uncommon instance for software in any era. Especially when said offering described its services with a church-speak-like mission statements:

“… Pownce is a lightweight productivity app, built on top of the stream, and it has all the pluses and minuses of a productivity app (including that you can use it to share music with friends!)”  – Pownce is competing with 37Signals, not Twitter!

Any wonder we all stopped using Pownce around 160 days ago?

So what has this got to do with your church and/or charity website? Glad you asked.

Remember, software features are only relevant to the primary activities you’re trying to accomplish with the assistance of automation.

Put another way, when you’re picking or designing a program to get something done – ignore all the fluff-n-stuff that has little or no bearing on what you want to get done.

For example, if all you want to do is post 1-up snips of your daily life, then Twitter is just enough software to get it done. No need to worry about file storage, groups, rooms, etc …

… which is also why I’m thinking Twitter is also likely to eventually beat the snot out of FriendFeed; but I digress … so more on that topic latter.

For now, here are some related links on this topic:

Your mileage may vary on this one, but deep in your heart, you know I’m right about making the mundane meaningful vs. marketing appeal of Twitter.

Now please, if you don’t mind, link this post in your next tweet, add it to all your social network links so I can be proven wrong about the marketing thingie. A simple @deanpeters reply is all it takes!-)

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. – 1 Corinthians 9:24-26


  1. Interestingly enough, I really thought Pownce would win on this. Afterwards, though, I realized that my post, while weighing features, missed the mark:

    You can have a crapload of features. If you don’t have the community, though, you’d completely useless.

    Pownce missed the opportunity to take advantage of an API early, offer SMS texting, and more early on. They could have capitalized further on their core group of followers if they emphasized functionality over featureset.

    So yes, you’re absolutely right. Initial observations showed Pownce as the clear winner, but over time, I realized that Pownce did nothing for me and Twitter fulfilled everything.


  2. enjoyed this post a lot.

    miss your updates!