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Where is Twitter's WordPress?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009 by Dave Winer.

Blogger is a centralized free hosting service created by Evan Williams and Meg Hourihan. It suffered from many of the same scaling issues in its early days as Twitter, but now that Blogger has been owned by Google for a long time, the scaling issues are gone. But it's not the only blogging service -- there are many others. And I can if I want, host my own blog on my own server, using software like WordPress or Movable Type. I've written my own software for Scripting News.  Permalink to this paragraph

I use Twitter, but I also remember fondly the days when Twitter was smaller, when I followed 50 people instead of 800. And I knew most of them. I still like Twitter, but it's way different, and I see a role for a smaller blog-sized Twitter, a companion to Scripting News, like Leo's TWiT Army. A clubhouse where we work on stuff that's of interest mainly to this community, where I follow 20 or 30 people and am followed by a hundred. This isn't a job for Yammer, because it's not a private application. But it isn't a job for Twitter either.  Permalink to this paragraph

A picture named picasso.gifThis weekend there was a furor about Facebook's terms of service -- people figured out that when they publish stuff on Facebook they lose control of it. Facebook put that in writing in their terms of service, but anyone who follows Technorati knows that our content is spread all over god's creation. People copy and paste whole blog posts, you wish they'd just link to them, but everyone has given up the fight on this, it's completely out of control, and has been for a long time. I think Facebook did the right thing by spelling out in black and white the reality of the Internet. Once you hit publish, it's gone.  Permalink to this paragraph

No matter what happens, some of us will never be happy with only the centralized service a corporation like Facebook or Twitter provides. Eventually we don't need the training wheels -- it's time to take off down the street in our own car, driving where we want to go, without asking for or waiting for the parent to give it to us. Now, after two years of using Twitter, I know exactly what I want. I've tried to communicate it privately, that hasn't gotten me what I want, so I'll try publicly and see if that works. Permalink to this paragraph

1. Ideally, I'd like Amazon to implement a back-end service that does what Twitter does, with a web service API that builds on the S3 API, like SimpleDB (for example). Then I'd spend a little time slapping together a bare-bones user interface and turn it over to my friends here at Scripting News to produce a variety of different interfaces for, browser based and desktop clients. That's the kind of stuff readers of this site love. I think we could bootstrap a community within weeks, and of course everything we create would be open source, so cloning it wouldn't be a problem. Permalink to this paragraph

2. Almost as good as #1 would be an EC2 AMI that installs laconi.ca, the software that runs identi.ca. A fair number of programmers already know how to start up an EC2 instance (I do, it's easy -- just took me a few hours and the docs were less than optimal). The idea is that I have to do nothing to have a basic microblogging system running. I want to configure it via web browser. And obviously I need to be able to customize it, but that's not a prob since they already support the Twitter API. Permalink to this paragraph

It's time for a thousand Twitters to bloom. The mother ship will do great, but we need a path that's independent of the corporate entity that runs Twitter. We've learned this time and again, let's not learn it one more time. 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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