Jan
14

Open Microblogging Is Here!

January 14th, 2009 | Open Source

Last June, I made a post titled “A Call For A Distributed And Open Twitter Service“. A friend recently sent me a direct tweet that made me very happy. Apparently, the ground work on an open microblogging format is in the works!

Evan’s comparison of an open microblogging standard with current email standards were directly in tune with how I feel. My biggest concern is that the standard won’t see adoption by key players such as Twitter itself. The only true value that Twitter has over the competition – well, aside from being “the verb” for microblogging – is the existing user base. You see, if you want to communicate with me via microblogging, you currently have to use a service I use. Since I use Twitter, you would have to use twitter. Folks choose Twitter because their friends are already on Twitter (or Plurk or Brightkite or …). By allowing their users to talk openly with other services, they will risk losing the strongest advantage they have.

The only path to success that I can imagine would require the open format (OMB) to gain significant traction outside of existing services. OMB would need so much traction that existing services would simply be forced to adopt the standard in hopes of retaining their users. This entire paradigm is not entirely unlike the OpenID struggle; and while OpenID is gaining adoption – it’s happening rather slowly.

Still, I believe that, in the long run, we’re going to eventually have to move most of our communication technology in the direction of open standards. Otherwise, I expect innovation to dry up until the technology is as useless as VHS… (For those that were around for the invention of VHS, lets go with 8-Track tapes!) How these new young companies with these hot microblogging platforms decide to interact with the open community will be far more telling of their ethical awareness rather than their business savvy. Here’s hoping for something wonderful.

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