I was away from my computer for a few days, but still near my Blackberry – a not-so-smart smartphone with a rudimentary web browser that is reminiscent of the finer parts of web browsing circa 1995. It's even better than 1995 in that the browser is so portable that it can go with you everywhere, and thus can be reasonably expected to be a mobile companion on social network outings.
Twitter is completely usable on this device, and the brief updates that people provide are ideal. The mobile Twitter web interface doesn't do a lot to support lists, but searches work great, and it's easily possible to follow along with what is going on and participate. It's an excellent companion in the car, especially when you're not driving. (Don't text and drive.)
Facebook's mobile web interface is rudimentary, but it does have access to almost all of the parts of the system that might make a difference. My phone is not smart enough to let me upload a photo directly into Facebook, but it did allow me to drop in a pleasantry or two, enough to satisfy the minimum social obligation.
Gmail on this device is slow, but fully functional. I wasn't able to keep up with my inbox, but it wasn't like I was really trying to, and it was incredibly handy to be able to search my email archives when I needed to.
Google+ is new, and it used to have support for my miserable browser when it launched; but that disappeared soon after launch. I was unattached to G+ throughout its holiday launch weekend.
I am sure that if I had a more capable device, my preferences would be more towards the fancier, newer systems with richer user interfaces and more shiny attractive access. That said, I don't know if more access is actually better when I'm on the move. All three systems accumulate a social debt that has to be repaid in some way, in that mentions should be reciprocated, messages should be returned, and plans should be acknowledged. Unless you're willing to be transmit-only when you're on the move, none of the systems had enough bandwidth on my slightly-smart phone to really keep up with accumulated social network debris.
IMO, the current version of Opera Mini is a lot better than the native Blackberry browser, at least on my BB8530 running OS5. It feels like a circa 2000 browser, and I mean that in a good way. And for keeping up with my inbox, I prefer a shell prompt (and judicious use of my d]elete key) to a GUI. The dev versions of BBSSH are quite stable and useful.
I find the phone to be enough of an obligation even without the gamut of social media options. The inherent limitations of the social media tools I do use (Twitter’s 140 chars) remind me of a Star Trek episode where the aliens taking over the Enterprise long for the comforting closeness of walls.
Here’s the Star Trek episode, “By Any Other Name”
What model is your Blackberry phone? I have the new Curve 9350, and I can connect with any social network just fine, whether on 3G or WiFi.
I now have a new phone, so it’s time to revisit this post. Soon, soon.