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Boostrapping a decentralized Twitter

Monday, May 05, 2008 by Dave Winer.

A picture named redflag.jpgOvernight Mike Arrington weighed in on the decentralized Twitter discussion. I'm glad he is getting involved, he's a smart guy and is now using Twitter as an integral part of his communication system. But I have to disagree with the way he characterized my thinking. Permalink to this paragraph

I always work in bootstrapping mode, addressing the first big issue, solving the problem, then advancing to the next one. It's why so many of the ideas I've worked on have become popular modes of communication. Big-bang approaches always fail. I've spent decades arguing with people who want to reinvent the world in one stroke. They always try anyway and always fail. Bootstrapping is the only way that works. Permalink to this paragraph

BTW, I'm not the only one who believes in bootstrapping. Doug Engelbart, who invented many of the things we take for granted today works that way as well. Permalink to this paragraph

So the first step in decentralizing Twitter is to get our data safe and stored off twitter.com. Then we need discovery, a way to find people through Twitter, and then without Twitter. There are many ways to do this that work and scale (DNS for one, Skype does it too, without a central server). Permalink to this paragraph

It's also important that we work with Twitter and that they be rewarded for being the primary bootstrapper of this network. I think it's important because it's right, and also because we need to incentivize others to do the same. Permalink to this paragraph

Also, while others believe the conversational aspects of Twitter are primary, I'm not one of them. I buy into the original vision -- "What are you doing?" -- and also see it as a link-blogging environment. I have of course used it conversationally, I've replied on Twitter to others, but I don't depend on it because I think this is going to "spam out" -- in fact it already is going that way. Just in the last few days I've gotten replies from users whose Twitter streams look totally like splogs, and at least a few of them are clearly automated. I block every one of them. Permalink to this paragraph

Steve O'Hear: Respect what already exists. Amen! 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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