There’s a new start up called “Jaxtr”, which allows bloggers to insert a widget which allows their readers to, at a click of a button, place a real telephone call to them, for free. Featuring the same logic behind such outfits as JaJah, the call is free so long as the recipient registers their own account with them as well as a phone number. After a reader clicks, they are prompted with inputting their own phone number. At that point the Jaxtr software rings the caller’s phone number; they pick up. And the call is placed to the blogger.
On the surface, I suppose this sounds cool; they certainly have enough partnerships to make it interesting, as they’ve got deals with MySpace, Blogger and Friendster. However, I wonder how many bloggers will actually find this useful.
I sure won’t.
Jaxter’s raison d’etre delves into the larger issue of why bloggers blog, and how close to a virtual audience one wants to get. Its one thing to post your opinions and non-sensical ramblings (as I often do) for people to see, read, and interact virtually. Its another to get them actually and literally call you (I like my flame wars to be kept online, thank you very much). After all, If I wanted my readers to call me, I’d probably list my skype number.
Think about this for a second.
Who do you actually speak to on the phone?
Close contacts. Personal friends. Relatives. Folks at work.
There’s an inner circle of personal intimacy that comes with actually speaking on the phone. Its the reason why people are happy to give out emails, but guard their own telephone numbers with surprising ferociousness. In my own exploration of bloggers and blogger interactions, you know you’ve reached a significant step in your relationship when someone offers to give you their “real” skype number, for example.
Sure, you can leave voicemails at Jaxter, so you can filter out your calls if you must. But the real purpose behind it is to connect bloggers with their friends. And to that I say “so what?” People who are already part of that circle I want to talk to are already in my Skype or instant messaging list.
“But, its a free call!”, some might say … or “what happens if you’re not by your PC / Mac / Linux / Amiga?” And to that I would say, a) there are non-widgetized examples of free calling, such as JaJah. And b) I can forward my calls from that VOIP program to a cellphone.
But these are technical trifles.
One day, Jaxtr might prove me wrong — and I’ll be happy to eat crow if I am. I already know people who I want to call, and they can reach me, and me them, without my blog as the intermediary. As much as I like to blog and interact with my readers through comments or email, I like to keep a distance between me and my readers. And if I want to contact them, or have them contact me … well, quite frankly, I’d like a little more control than just posting a “Call Me Now!” widget on my blog.
(PS. With all of the colorful characters trawling MySpace these days, how many people will be able to confidently add this widget? Would you?)