A prompt answer

Just when you think no more new things can happen on the blogging frontier, the horizon opens and something brand new just spits into the frame. Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan tells more.

| Updated on: Feb 10 2009, 20:23 IST

Boy, I love new things. Just when you think no more new things can happen on the blogging frontier, the horizon opens and something brand new just spits into the frame.

Well, if you follow tech news, then you probably already know what I'm talking about. But I didn't, until I read a blog, followed a link and found something I loved. I'm talking about Plinky (http://www.plinky.com/) — possibly the laziest ever method of blogging. It's like Twitter, and like a blog, except it does the work for you. Stuck for a blog post or a tweet? Plinky gives you — I kid you not — prompts, so that you always know what to say.

A gentle push
The tagline for Plinky is "Because sometimes you need a push" and when you Google it, it says 'Hey, didn't you use to have a blog?' Which is, sadly, kind of true. This website gives you enough space to detail a though t— something Twitter can't or won't do and at the same time, helps you keep it structured.

Let me give you an example. A prompt I answered was "What kind of superhero would you be?" Easy question, made even easier by the various sub-parts of the post. First I had to choose whether or not I'd wear tights. Then I had to choose a superhero name, then I detailed my powers. It made the post simple and informative and there's the added narcissistic element that comes from voting for the best answer and reading comments people have left on your answers. Not only that, but you can also give suggestions for prompts.

Here's the downside. On a slow internet connection (like mine) Plinky doesn't open all that easily. I've been trying and trying to reload right now so I can tell you about today's prompt, but it doesn't seem to be happening. I guess streamlining it is something they are still working on.

On to the questions I know you'll have.

Who made it?
Plinky was created, my Web research tells me, by Jason Shellen who used to work at Google and helped with Blogger. More about Shellen and Plinky can be found at his website (http://shellen.com/2008/06/plinky.asp)
Will it replace Twitter/Blogger/Facebook?

Here's the other cool thing I found about this application. You don't actually have to do a whole Sophie's Choice thing. Plinky can be set to send updates to your other social communication programmes. I've set mine to update on Twitter and on Facebook where it provides a link people can click through on to see my page. Microblogging made micromanagable.
What's the bad news?

Because I am a hardened cynic watching waves of new trends enter and leave the Internet, I actually do have some bad news. Here's the problem with spoon-feeding sites like Plinky — I'm sure many clones will come up by the end of the year — it's going to be the end of thinking for yourself. It's going to be the end of good writing and the beginning of perceiving smart answers as good writing. Sure, there are days when we all wish for an idea machine to drop down from the sky and intravenously feed us, but with our minds going to mush anyway with all the things automatically provided to us, I don't know whether this "prompt" thing is such a good idea. Think Truth Or Dare versus telling someone your secrets.

Bottom line is, go sign up, it's lots of fun, but don't give up your blog just yet.

Meenakshi writes a blog at www.thecompulsive confessor.blogspot.com. You can send her your queries at meenakshimadhavan@gmail.com

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First Published Date: 10 Feb, 18:20 IST