Archive >  2008 >  June >  28 Previous / Next

Scripting News, the weblog started in 1997 that bootstrapped the blogging revolution.

State of the Twitter, June 2008 Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named lecter.jpgJune was a terrible month in TwitterLand. The service was down a lot. It's basically down right now, has been for days -- since the Replies tab doesn't work.

I've never seen anything like it. A service so many people use that can't stay up.

Yesterday I got an email from Jay Rosen asking if this was the day Twitter died. It had completely gone off the air. No whale, no features taking a rest, the server wasn't responding at all. I posted a message on FriendFeed linking to the Don McLean song American Pie that's about "The Day The Music Died." Yeah, yesterday might have been the day that Twitter died.

Fact is, Twitter as it was conceived was never meant to live.

It's very possible with better engineering its architecture might have gone on for a few more years, but eventually it would have hit this wall, where there were too many people posting too many twits to too many followers. The scale of the system as conceived rises exponentially. Just look at the spewage report for a sense of the scale.

So I started arguing for a decentralized system, and the engineers at Twitter sniffed that you would never be able to recreate Twitter in a decentralized fashion. I still doubt that's true, but now we have a counter-argument -- you couldn't keep it running in a centralized fashion either. It may just be too rich an application for today's computers. To a user this seems ridiculous -- it doesn't look rich. I guess sometimes appearances can be deceptive.

So the conversation moves to FriendFeed. True, I am ignoring the flow I have on Twitter. Easy come easy go. The flow there is pointless. It's like trying to make a baby by having sex with a rock. First, it's hard to get excited. And second, no baby.

And FriendFeed is a much better place for conversation than Twitter. No 140-character limit (they do have a limit, but it's much higher, so high I haven't had a reason yet to figure out what it is). And most important, with 10K-plus followers on Twitter, when I respond to one person's question, all 10K see the response and some get annoyed (a certain percentage say so) or ask what we're talking about. If I answer their question, I'm annoying and confusing a bunch more people. Conversation was awkwardly grafted onto Twitter as an afterthought. It seems to fit in better with FriendFeed.

A picture named donquixote.gifHowever, before we all move to FriendFeed and think we've solved anything, this underscores the problem with putting all our eggs in one basket. We just move the problem into the future. FriendFeed may be able to scale where Twitter can't, but there are other problems with centralization, putting all your trust in a corporation, esp one so young and unformed. Instead, we should start bootstrapping a decentralized Twitter-like thing immediately, building off the base of clients that connect to Twitter. It can connect to any service we want to connect to, and if one should go away, we do the thing the Internet does so well, route around the outage. I wrote about this, extensively, in early May.

PS: I implemented my own suggestion. Here's my RSS feed of today's Twitter posts.

PPS: At 7:40PM, replies in Twitter are back. Now we get to find out if our fling with FF is the real thing, or just a summer love.


Last update: Saturday, June 28, 2008 at 7:40 PM Pacific.

A picture named dave.jpgDave Winer, 53, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.

"The protoblogger." - NY Times.

"The father of modern-day content distribution." - PC World.

One of BusinessWeek's 25 Most Influential People on the Web.

"Helped popularize blogging, podcasting and RSS." - Time.

"The father of blogging and RSS." - BBC.

"RSS was born in 1997 out of the confluence of Dave Winer's 'Really Simple Syndication' technology, used to push out blog updates, and Netscape's 'Rich Site Summary', which allowed users to create custom Netscape home pages with regularly updated data flows." - Tim O'Reilly.

Dave Winer Mailto icon

My most recent trivia on Twitter.

My Wish List

On This Day In: 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998 1997.

June 2008
May   Jul

Lijit Search
Things to revisit:

1.Microsoft patent acid test.
2.What is a weblog?
3.Advertising R.I.P.
4.How to embrace & extend.
5.Bubble Burst 2.0.
6.This I Believe.
7.Most RSS readers are wrong.
8.Who is Phil Jones?
9.Send them away.
10.Negotiate with users.
11.Preserving ideas.
12.Empire of the Air.
13.NPR speech.
14.Russo & Hale.
15.Trouble at the Chronicle.
15.RSS 2.0.
16.Checkbox News.
17.Spreadsheet calls over the Internet.
18.Twitter as coral reef.
19.Mobs of the blogosphere.
20.Advice for Campaigns.
21.Social Cameras.
22.The Next Big Thing.
23.It's time to open up networking, again.
24.Am I competing?
25.Time to shake up conferences?
26.Bloggers working with journalists.

Teller: "To discover is not merely to encounter, but to comprehend and reveal, to apprehend something new and true and deliver it to the world."

Click here to see a list of recently updated OPML weblogs.

Click here to read blogs commenting on today's Scripting News.

I'm a California voter for Obama.

Morning Coffee Notes, an occasional podcast by Scripting News Editor, Dave Winer.

Click here to see an XML representation of the content of this weblog.

Click here to view the OPML version of Scripting News.

© Copyright 1997-2008 Dave Winer.

Previous / Next