I’d not heard of Pushnote before signing up for cpd23 and, judging by others’ tweets and blogs this week, neither had many other people. Moreover, most people seemed to be distinctly underwhelmed by their first interaction with it.
I don’t know - I kinda liked it. It’s quite interesting, although of dubious professional utility, to learn that on Wednesday the third most popular webpage among Pushnote users was Bill Bailey’s message to Metallica. I’m still puzzling out how most of the features work (for example, I haven’t rated or shared anything yet), but I think I’ll continue to fiddle with it for at least a couple more weeks, before probably forgetting all about it. (The icon that appears on your toolbar after you’ve installed the Pushnote add-on is curiously easy to ignore.)
I think Pushnote’s problem is twofold. Firstly, although it’s a truism, to be successful an application like this has to fill a need (sometimes one that users didn’t even know they had until the application came along). RSS feeds obviously do this, in that they eliminate the need to trog repeatedly around the internet visiting your favoured websites and instead deliver new content straight to you. Twitter also does this, by providing a way to converse with others, share links and ask for help or advice, all in real time and in a much more immediate way than other applications.
Does Pushnote work on a need-to-use, as opposed to a nice-to-use, basis? It’s doubtful: there are already plenty of ways to share recommended websites with friends and colleagues. And if you’re a visiting a particular site or page under your own impulse, then it’s just as easy to have a quick look at the site yourself and come to your own conclusions, rather than relying on the comments of a bunch of people you don’t know off the internet.
Secondly, any social networking or sharing tool obviously works better the more users there are to network and share with, and I don’t think Pushnote has reached that tipping point. From the various websites I’ve looked at, even ones that must be heavily visited such as the Guardian’s website and IMDB have not received many comments. In many cases, comments that have been left mainly date from January 2011, when the service was first launched; there are comparatively fewer recent comments, which probably tells its own story.
Lord knows I am nobody’s idea of an early adopter, so it is a bit strange for me to be kicking around in an application that has yet to reach a critical mass of users. I don’t think at the moment that Pushnote is anywhere near as indispensable as Twitter or RSS feeds (or, no doubt, other tools I’ve yet to discover) but I’ll hang on for a little while longer just to be sure.