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Why today's Twitter is like Napster in Y2K

Saturday, December 19, 2009 by Dave Winer.

A picture named santa.gifOne of the arguments for the music industry not suing Napster out of existence in 2000 was that they had all the music on the Internet under one roof. By deleting Napster, they forced music to shard into a million pieces, and then reform later as iTunes and Amazon and a myriad of Internet startups. If it had stayed in one place it would have been possible to build all kinds of community services that reached everyone on the Internet who loves music. That might have been very amazing. Permalink to this paragraph

If you believe, as I do, that Twitter is at least a dress rehearsal for the news system of the future, it's pretty clear we're at a Napster-like place now. Everyone has a name prefixed by an at-sign that takes you to their profile page. Twitter is, right now, the default identity system for the realtime message network. But that is changing very quickly.  Permalink to this paragraph

Recently Facebook changed the meaning of at-sign to take you to your Facebook profile page. And on WordPress and Tumblr the at-sign will presumably take you to your home blog or profile page on either system. It's hard to imagine them defining it as your profile on Twitter. Technically it would be nearly impossible for them to do it. And politically, it's not very appealing. Permalink to this paragraph

A few years from now we may look back at the Twitter of 2009 as we now look back at the Napster of 2000 -- a time when there was a great opportunity to build, that was missed. In this case, it's the owners of Twitter who are missing the opportunity. They could now be defining the loosely-coupled version of Twitter, and let your home page on Twitter act as the glue that joins all the networks you belong to that link through your Twitter ID.  Permalink to this paragraph

The address of my Tumblr profile page could be: Permalink to this paragraph

http://twitter.com/davewiner/tumblr  Permalink to this paragraph

And my WordPress profile page would have this address: Permalink to this paragraph

http://twitter.com/davewiner/wordpress Permalink to this paragraph

And the implementation of the Twitter API on twitter.com would have new features that make it easy for me to find other API implementors of networks that join together through my presence on Twitter. Permalink to this paragraph

There probably isn't enough time to architect this, but maybe there is. It's certainly worth thinking about. Permalink to this paragraph

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A picture named dave.jpgDave Winer, 54, 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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Last update: 12/19/2009; 11:37:34 PM Pacific. "It's even worse than it appears."

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