Yesterday on Twitter, Trent Krupp posted an idea that's worth using as a starting point. But first, I want to deflect the idea of me being CEO of anything. It's ridiculous. I was a CEO once, of a very small company. I had to deal with investors, creditors, angry users, defecting execs, predatory platform vendors, quirky programming talent, going to conferences, trade shows, raising money, fighting landlords, being sued, etc etc. The only part of it I liked and was any good at was fixing bugs and shipping products.
I'm not a CEO, but could be part of the reboot of Twitter. I'd like to get a chance to reboot the platform. People say you can't get developer trust back, but if you get a famous freedom-loving Internet developer to design the plan, someone like me for example, that might get people to take a look. But I wouldn't rep the platform as anything other than what it was. If it was to preserve developer freedom, it really would have to deliver.
To make a developer platform that works, Twitter would have to irrevocably give up control of core parts of the technology. People like to make analogies to Apple, so this would be analogous to Apple building the core of OS X on FreeBSD Unix, which had the most liberal open source license at the time. They then contributed their enhancements, known as Darwin, as open source. Twitter would do the same. Above a certain level, the Twitter OS would be proprietary. But the core transport technology and most important the protocol it implements would be open and easily cloned.
If I want to operate my own server to peer with Twitter, using the same @namespace, I can. And on my server, the only rules are the ones I make. Let a thousand flowers bloom, at all levels of the ecosystem. This would be new fresh territory for developers. It allows them to create labs for new ideas, and a flow of new Twitter-compatible technology. Possibly a vast new flow.
Then I'd ask for a good-size amount of money for investing in and acquiring products from developers that build on this newly open technology. We'd, of course, announce the amount publicly. Partner with a few leading VCs and individual investors. Possibly even issue a new class of stock (a subsidiary, so people could make a pure bet on the developer possibilities, without buying the liabilities in the current Twitter stock). That takes care of the other side of the developer equation. Having shown there's an opportunity, also show the developers that we're willing to share the risk with them. We want your love, and we're willing to help with the dollars.
This would be a fantastic bet on the idea that Twitter left a lot of money on the table in the form of new ideas that can be developed on top of an Internet-scale notification system, which never existed before Twitter, btw. As a person with a sizable investment both in terms of know-how and working code, in the Twitter platform, I really really believe this.