Home > Archive >  2008 >  July >  8

Which way will Twitter go?

Tuesday, July 08, 2008 by Dave Winer.

A picture named sailboat.gifBiz Stone posted yesterday about the status of services connected to Twitter via their XMPP gateway. We knew about Summize, suspected that FriendFeed had a deal, and learned that there are two others.  Permalink to this paragraph

We'd like to see Twitter connect their full output to anyone who wants it, but without directly saying so, Stone implies that there are technical reasons they can't. Permalink to this paragraph

I am not an expert on XMPP so I have to defer to others who are. They say it would be possible for Summize to allow anyone to subscribe to the flow they receive from Twitter, and this would be transparent to Twitter.  Permalink to this paragraph

Gnip, a company whose founders I interviewed last week, asked for this arrangement, and even thought Summize was willing to provide them with the flow, Twitter said no. Permalink to this paragraph

This is a clear indication that it is an economic issue, not a technical one.  Permalink to this paragraph

I wrote yesterday that identi.ca changes things, offering a public utility model to compete with Twitter's company-owned model. It is built around the assumption that anyone can hook into the stream of any server, allowing a "federation" where being a citizen of one community means that you're a citizen of every community.  Permalink to this paragraph

It seems then, long-term, there are three options for Twitter.  Permalink to this paragraph

1. Open up their XMPP interface to all interested service providers, with the help of the community, so that it has no impact on the scaling of their servers. I'm almost 100 percent sure the developers would rally around such an idea, and help Twitter get this going. Permalink to this paragraph

2. Wait, and support the same federation protocol as identi.ca, allowing Twitter users to participate in that community, on equal terms. Permalink to this paragraph

3. Build AOL-like barriers around their service, to force users to connect to Twitter users only through their software.  Permalink to this paragraph

Obviously, from the way I've written it, you can tell that I think #3 is not really an option, not if they want to learn from the experience of instant messaging.  Permalink to this paragraph

It seems to me that blogging, which came after IM, set the precedent for Twitter-like services, and while the compatibility between blogging services isn't perfect, it's pretty good. Because of RSS (and RDF and Atom), and the two blogging APIs (Blogger and Metaweblog) you have fairly good interop. I wish it had come out better, but it's still early for Twitter-like services, compatibility could still, theoretically, be perfect. Permalink to this paragraph

I hope that Ev, Jack and Biz remember this, and build a business we can all respect, not built on locking users in. Permalink to this paragraph


Recent stories:

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.

I'm a California voter for Obama.

© Copyright 1994-2008 Dave Winer Mailto icon.

Last update: 10/20/2008; 8:22:33 AM Pacific. "It's even worse than it appears."

Click here to view blogs commenting on  RSS 2.0 feed.