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Microblogging should be decentralized

Saturday, May 03, 2008 by Dave Winer.

A picture named love.gifScott Hanselman asks the question that should be on all our minds, as we come to depend more and more on Twitter. We need to do something about our over-reliance on a centralized system run by a for-profit company. Permalink to this paragraph

Read his whole post and think about what you can do. Permalink to this paragraph

One thing right off the bat -- if you make a desktop tool for Twitter, you can offer the user the option to store their twitstream as an RSS feed. Just do it in parallel, transparently for the user (although it's a preference). You can key off their Twitter ID. If you want I'll set up a service for free hosting of the feed on Amazon S3 (it's not a very expensive thing) or it's something you could provide as a bonus feature.  Permalink to this paragraph

It's a step in a positive direction for decentralizing. It's not the whole thing, but it's a big part of it. And should Twitter ever go off the air for more than a few days, it'll be the way we put the network back together. Permalink to this paragraph

Update #1: I took a walk, and thought some more about this. If there were a way to point, from your Twitter account, to an alternate feed, then your desktop client could cache a pointer to the feed for each person you're following. If Twitter were to go down, then the desktop client would fall back to polling the feeds. It would probably be slower, but it would work.  Permalink to this paragraph

If one of the people you follow didn't have an alternate feed, you'd have to wait for Twitter to come back up to find out what's new with them. But if they used a desktop client, and the client was maintaining the feed automatically for each user (subject to a pref), then it would notify Twitter where it was storing the feed. Twitter would just have to maintain one more string for each user, alongside the user's location, link to their website, one-line bio, etc.  Permalink to this paragraph

However: It would require support from Twitter, Inc. to work.  Permalink to this paragraph


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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.

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