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Agile Computing Authors: Liz McMillan, Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Zakia Bouachraoui, Pat Romanski

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Twitter will kick themselves for missing this

A picture named tramp.jpgImagine if the world of Instant Messaging had been under one roof, if one vendor had invented it, and had 100 percent market share. Further, what if that vendor had the foresight that there would be other vendors and that compatibility between their services would make a huge market, and that incompatibility would keep the market fragmented and relatively small. What would that vendor have done?

Now think about the opportunity that was before Twitter in 2007 and may even still exist in 2008, to do the same for micro-blogging. Imagine if Twitter had rolled out a blueprint for how to tie up a compatible micro-blogging service to Twitter's service, in such a way that I could use one vendor's service and you could use another, but somehow I could still follow you and you could follow me. That's the nirvana we're all seeking as new services come online and finally start attracting users.

I think it's good that Steve Gillmor is using Identi.ca as his micro-blogging home. Given the amount of enthusiasm he has for Twitter, I'm sure this decision didn't come quickly or easily. Me, I'm using FriendFeed these days, and to the extent I post to Twitter it's done by some bridge software I wrote that watches what I do on FF and posts new stuff automatically to Twitter.

When we move to different systems we're creating a mess, because there are differences in these systems (and that's good, I like the ways FF is different from Twitter and Identi.ca) so bridging them requires some thought, experimentation and consideration. I'm sure Steve would like to be able to communicate with people who use Twitter (can he?) but I can follow Steve fine over on FF, which has the ability to subscribe to feeds from other users.

I've had to turn off FF's monitoring of my Twitter feed, because it would catch "echoes" of messages my bridge sent to Twitter which then appeared a second time on FF. This meant having discipline to only use FF to post now. Anything I post on Twitter will not be seen on FF.

This is chaos but it's good, because now users are understanding the issues of federation, and will know a solution to the problems when they see it. Users can even participate in the discussion, because they are becoming so familiar with the problem.

Would it have been better for Twitter to anticipate it? Absolutely, because the chaos could have been avoided; and it would have been better for Twitter because they could have been the Network Solutions of this space, the name authority, and there would be their elusive business model. Your name on the micro-blogging network would cost $5 per year, payable to Ev, Biz and Jack, Incorporated. That would add up to quite an annuity. It still could happen, but there isn't much time left.

Update: See the discussion on FF.

A picture named feelGreat.jpgcgerrish: "I once wrote that it wasn't possible to rebuild New York city somewhere else. But Twitter has stopped doing some of the things that made it the New York City of social media. Its streets are filled with potholes, there are abandoned buildings and broken windows, squeegee guys trying to clean your windshields, trash on the streets, basic services not working and periodic power outages. People won't migrate individually to other services, they'll leave in tribes. And every tribe is connected to many other tribes."

Read the original blog entry...

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