If you think about it Twitter is a bit of a walled garden, a closed system as Sean Carmody has pointed out. You have to be on Twitter to use Twitter; a little like Facebook or AOL. Maybe what we need to step beyond Twitter into an open message distribution service, this would help with the load issue if nothing else.
Stepping beyond the walled garden will allow services like Twitter to jump the shark and avoid the problems AOL had. They were popular with the early adopters to start with, then the mob got bored and moved on, the shininess and gloss just waned away.
So are there any other alternatives we can glean a model off:
So with Twitter we get the clones (Pownce, Jaiku and Kwippy ), with a few add on features, do they really give us anything new? Maybe not. Okay Pownce is a little more, but it’s still a little like Twitter in outlook. Still they are all closed communities. You can’t message from one into the other.
Then we have identi.ca, based on the Laconica system. Still this is very Twitter based clone service. You can have your own server true, but it’s still closed. We don’t see identi.ca messages in the other services. Edit 2 Sept – I have since been informed you can if you set up your own service. Okay so that’s a start.
All these services have made some degree of traction but really nothing major, people have tended to check them out, maybe add them to their distribution services like Ping.fm. But basically people just move on, leaving nothing but an echo.
People are saying FriendFeed is the next big thing. Well maybe not, on a personal level I’m beginning to find FriendFeed a pain to use. There is just too much noise from some A-listers that I’m not subscribed too that seem to sneak in from one friend or the other. It’s to the point that the normal conversation and feeds from my real network are just being swamped. This makes the service a little pointless, I just don’t have the time to trawl through the A-list chaff. So realistically this model isn’t really cutting it, even if it is a little open, in a way.
Previously I have questioned if Plurk had what it takes to continue. Two months later and the service has matured. It has been busy building a small community. It’s not microblogging at all, more like a thread based IRC than anything. However again it’s a closed community. You can’t continue a conversation from Plurk on anything but Plurk.
What is really needed is an open API driven Open Messaging service, a true commenting open service that will allow you to have a conversation from one service to another. For example you can send a comment to Twitter, converse with someone in Plurk, read other comments from Friendfeed all from whatever one you choose.
Realistically that’s going to take a community effort the likes of OpenID or OAuth, and even then you would have to convince the companies concerned that it was in their interest to adopt this type of messaging system. Still it’s a nice idea.
Edit 2 Sept – There is a protocol in development – OpenMicroBlogger. I think it needs to get out there and be promoted a bit.