Maybe not so much on Twitter.
[Update: Useful pointers in the comments, and also I just ran across Birdfeeder; obviously this is a hot spot.]

I’ve been blogging less recently, and there’s no doubt that some of the writing energy has gone into Twitter. On the face of it, there’s nothing wrong with that. Twitter works better than a blog for extreme-short-form, and has proved over the last couple of years that extreme-short is a good form.

But I have a problem. I put serious work into writing what I write, and I’d like to think that the parts that are any good might outlive me. I love Twitter, but it’s a venture-funded startup with no business model, and these are tough times. They might make it and they might get rich, but it would be totally unsurprising if, 24 months from now, Twitter were gone, or a zombie site, or its BigCo acquirer was installing pointy-haired bosses to Leverage The Synergies.

The basic problem is that Twitter is centralized; that’s not how the Internet works. I’m reminded of Netscape; we all owe them a huge debt for introducing the world to the browser; but the short period during which the Web was a Netscape Application was pretty painful for those of us trying to improve the state of the art.

I hope that the Twitter story plays out more gracefully than Netscape’s did, and I think that for their own sakes they ought to be encouraging federated-blogging work. (All I know about is Laconica; is there more?) Because I want the best for the little tweets I send out into the big bad Internet.


Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: Brian LeRoux (Jan 17 2009, at 14:33)

Jaiku is going open source and federated on App Engine. Rather interesting, eh.


From: Dave Thomas (Jan 17 2009, at 14:36)


If the assumption is that your blog is more likely to survive that Twitter, then why not subscribe to your Twitter feed in a simple script, and archive them all to your blog's sidebar? Best of both worlds...



From: Neil (Jan 17 2009, at 19:17)

Bruce Mann wrote something about how Twitter was just Jabber ... there's a few differences, like anonymous followers, but they seem solvable.

As a Canadian, now that Twitter won't send SMS to one's phone, nor IMs, the usefulness has greatly diminished. Perhaps the iPhone era renders this a moot point.


From: Jeff Schiller (Jan 17 2009, at 19:29)

Maybe try what I do: Use and configure it to fire off your microblogs to a PHP page of your own so you can be sure your microblogs are preserved for as long as you want. That's what I do


From: Michael C. Harris (Jan 17 2009, at 21:17)

I don't know anything about it, but there's also I've heard rumblings about people adding OMB support to Jaiku, now that it's been open sourced. Of course talk is easy.


From: Daniel Sandler (Jan 17 2009, at 22:30)

The research I'm working on (start here: ) sounds pretty darn close to what you're looking for. (The prototype I've been using has a complete copy of all 1275 tweets I've made since June.)


From: Carolyn A. Colborn (Jan 18 2009, at 06:22)

The real dilemma on digital archiving is the longevity of preservation when digital technology changes so rapidly, as you have noted. A lot of libraries still have microfiche and microfilm. It seems like the money makers going forward are in the converters from “old” to “new”, which is entirely subjective in terms of what is old, and what is new, viable and sustainable. Is tape more cost effective, viable and sustainable for archiving? Big question these days, especially for Sun.

Re Twitter, ask Alec Muffett what he is doing with his Twitters. (Tweets?)

(January 8, 2009) “Test WP 2.7 Twitter Integration”


From: Evan Prodromou (Jan 18 2009, at 06:57)

Tim: I've been working pretty hard in the last few weeks to revive and revitalize the OpenMicroBlogging protocol project.

This is the protocol that Laconica and support. We've got at my last check more than 100 sites linked together using the protocol.

I'd love to see more support. I'm excited about the Jaiku announcement, and I've contacted the team there to see what we can do to federate. Ditto with Rejaw, Kwippy, and Plurk. I encourage users of those sites to ask for federated mublogging.

But I think the best way to kickstart the protocol is to build it into some of the existing Open Source microblogging tools. People who like to code should really try to put OMB into these codebases:

* - Python/Django -

* Skittr - Scala/Lift -

* Twoorl - Erlang/ErlyWeb -

* Yonkly - -

* Jisko - PHP -

I also hope that people interested in seeing an open microblogging network flourish join our mailing list and get the process moving.

Thanks for the attention you've put into this idea; it's really making a difference.



From: ickledot (Jan 18 2009, at 09:53)

Question from a know nowt: Is to Twitter what betamax was to VHS? ie the former is better but less popular?


From: Sam Sethi (Jan 18 2009, at 12:56)

Tim fully agree the future is federated micro-blogging using XMPP derivative XEP and the work of the Open Micro-Blogging platform.

My company has developed Twitblogs because we too were exhausted by the long-cycle of macro-blogging on various platforms then waiting for XML-PRC or RSS to inform readers before getting feedback.

With twitblogs we can still blog and then immediately link it to our social graph on twitter.

To address your concerns of data lock or loss we are supporting the BlogML initiative to enable import/export between blog platforms.

Lastly we are also building in support for GNIP's XMPP twitter firehose feed which is the first step to remove our dependancy on twitter.


From: Todd (Jan 18 2009, at 14:27)

"All I know about is Laconica; is there more?"

Jaiku is about to become decentralized, federated. Jyri has the details here:

I would dispute federated micro blogging as the be all, end all. Its my opinion the the work being done on federated activity streams ( of which micro blogging is a sub set ) by the folks over at DiSo is *really* where its going. Hawt!


From: Mitra Ardron (Jan 18 2009, at 14:38)

I find there is a mix here of two questions -

1: What technology to use for micro-bloging

2: Whether its a good idea.

I've noticed that a number of bloggers have moved over to spend more time on Twitter - but to be honest I've yet to find one whose tweets are worth reading.

Yes - you can post a URL in a tweet, but rarely is there enough information in a tweet to determine whether or not the URL is worth following.

Compare that to reading blogs with a decent RSS feeder, in around an hour you can cover about 100 blogs, scan their subject (equivalent to a tweet) click on the subject of topics of interest and then follow the FEW that are of interest.

What is most valuable in that experience is that the blogger often didn't write the material, but has put the effort into selecting something of interest, and summarising or commenting on it.

I don't believe its possible to do that with a tweet.

- Mitra


From: Boris Mann (Jan 18 2009, at 14:56)

Bruce Mann -- close, that would be me, Boris Mann, from almost 2 years ago -- parts I and II.

Jaiku going open source AND federating AND being available on Google App Engine means that, theoretically, anyone could easily run a micro blogging site that stays up.

Kind of like how anyone can run their own blog.

Identity and API integration with federating between instances, and we're all set, which doesn't seem that far off.


From: Dave Johnson (Jan 18 2009, at 16:16)

Tim, this is more or less the topic of my Northern Voice 09 talk. I think that even in cases like blogging where one is using a FOSS package such as WordPress there is still the possibility that one's service provider could go away or worse that WordPress is no longer supported or even worked on.

If you have any other ideas on the topic I would love to hear them!


From: Gordon Haff (Jan 19 2009, at 05:38)


There are a couple of different thoughts there that are worth teasing apart, I think. One is the openness of the platform. As others have indicated, there are various now and future approaches to make your twitter or other micro-blogging portable and replicated. The other thought, however, is more around micro-blogging vs. blogging vs. longer-form writing. Greater frequency and immediacy gets traded off to a certain degree against depth of thinking and long-term impact.


From: Iain Chalmers (Jan 19 2009, at 17:17)

Hmmm, that triggers an interesting idea - a distributed peer to peer version of twitter... The data volumes are probably low enough that you could happily store each of your contacts entire stream, thereby backing up everything of interest to you, and having your contacts also back it up. If everything got stored encrypted to a public key handed out by each author (for the locked "friends only" account case), it wouldn't matter how much of your local feed leaked to non-friends...



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