How basic is Twitter?
Wednesday, March 28, 2007 by Dave Winer.
Like so many others in the tech blogging world, I've spent the last few weeks exploring Twitter. I understand that there were lots of people using it before me, and before that, the developers of Twitter envisioned something that all the rest of us didn't. So before going any further, let's pause for a moment and appreciate their innovation and contribution to the richness of the cyber-environment that we work in. Congrats on a great accomplishment.
I've been following the digging work that Nik Cubrilovic and Steve Poland have been doing, with great interest, particularly the report yesterday on the upcoming Twitter API feature that will allow users to direct private messages at invidual users. Both Steve and Nik have observed that names in the Twitter space may become quite valuable in the future. And Nik observes that the Twitter folk may have made a mistake by not reserving some of the juiciest names for themselves, like GET, for example.
@get "berkeley weather"
If you play it out, the Twitter command line could evolve to be something much like the Unix command line, with an important difference, it's world-wide in scope. Before you lose your breath, this is hardly the first such command line, the address bar in the browser has a similar property as does the search box on Google (of course, any search engine). But Twitter's would be newly interesting because the thing it wires together, better than any environment before, is something we're all interested in -- people.
So inevitably, a query about the value of namespaces leads you to wonder if there will be TwitterClones, web-based services that emulate the Twitter API, that keep internal data structures similar to Twitter, and most important, peer with Twitter, the same way Twitter peers with IM and SMS systems.
This is as far as I got in my thinking when last night I decided to ask Les Orchard, a developer I know for quite a few years, and who I've worked with on a couple of projects, both of which use the kind of technology that would be required for such a project --
What if there were an open source implementation of Twitter?
What do you think? Is Twitter important, like web servers, or blogging software, so important that we should have an open source implementation of something that works like Twitter and can connect up to Twitter? Where are the tough sub-projects, and how much does it depend on the willingness of the developers of Twitter #1 to support systems that connect to theirs?
Les Orchard: "Twitter is not just a technological thing." Amen.