Yes, I obviously have yet to learn this lesson, so I went ahead and signed up for another social media service. Here I am on

In case you haven’t heard of, the short summary is that it’s Twitter done right.

Everything Twitter currently does is provided by, plus some. These additions are particularly interesting to me, since they primarily revolve around openness.

  1. You get OpenID support for starters, which you can associate with and use to log in to multiple accounts (if for some reason you’d want more than one).
  2. Free – as in no, reallyfree – The software itself is truly free software; the main server that most people will sign up on and use runs an unmodified copy of the source that’s available for everyone to download and use on their own servers. Leaving no stone unturned, even the data published to their servers is licensed under Creative Commons.
  3. Federation – Here’s the kicker, the one that sent me over the edge. If you do choose to take advantage of the freedom listed above and set up your own server, your server can participate in the larger network, extending it rather than becoming yet another alternative or competitor (unless you want to do that).
    You can even start out on their servers and move your account to your own server(s) later, and keep on participating in the network you have helped to build. I don’t think I’m overstating things when I say that this aspect is revolutionary in the new world of social media.

At this point the only advantage Twitter has in its favor is its user base. Now, considering the nature of these services and the value they provide, this is admittedly a huge advantage.

However, it is my hope is that in time the benefits inherent in the approach and the game-changing opportunities for innovation without fragmentation that it provides will win over users (and / or bridge to and from Twitter itself) in the end.

Here we go again

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5 Responses to

  1. Dan Cameron says:

    Too bad it doesn’t really work all that well. IMs never worked for me and it’s very slow to roll out additional features.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if it turned out like mugshot. ha ha.

    Anyways, I do think the federation is awesome and I hope it catches on but I think that’s only going to happen if they get a real time connection to Twitter, so the userbase can migrate gradually – which will never happen.

  2. Rich says:

    I’ll have to disagree with Dan.

    It works perfectly for me. Nothing has ever gone awry which is pretty hot considering it’s version 0.3 I believe. Also I have been pleasantly surprised by the pace of development.

    I’m going to wait a while before setting up my own Laconica server but I think at some point I will. It’s an excellent bit of software and the only feature I long for is Jaiku style conversations. I find twitter style conversations a ball ache to follow.

  3. Matt says:

    I disagree, Dan. has only been public for a month, but it’s remarkably stable and powerful for such a young service.

    The fact that the API is 100% compatible with Twitter’s API is another nice touch; the only thing one needs to do in order to modify Twitter clients to work with is replacing “” with “” in the source code. And, of course, Jabber XMPP actually works on Twitter’s been promising to bring back public XMPP support “in the next few days” for the past month.

    If Twitter runs into further downtime, feature-cutting, or follower-trimming, and if the heavyweights among the “digirati” (I hate the term, but lack a better one) such as CNET and TWIT podcast hosts start using and evangelizing, Twitter’s userbase advantage could disappear very quickly.

  4. JB says:

    Yeah, so far has done everything right in terms of their rapid growth and technical implementation, IMHO.

    As for taking advantage of the Twitter population to seed the system with more valuable data, I think it’s only a matter of time before someone builds a gateway to pipe Twitter updates in and out of the network.

    Even without that, a broader adoption in the tech community (as Matt suggests) would go a long way towards meeting that content need for me, since those are primarily the kind of updates I’d be interested in seeing.

  5. Great post! I’m also very excited by what’s happening with, and I don’t look at it as “yet another social network” because of the open source/federated angle. If you move, it moves with you … and really, the reasons for moving (your community moves, or the service is so unreliable it’s unusable) aren’t as likely.

    I started an support blog at that I hope you’ll check out.

    @Dan to echo others here, has only been out for a month and is rolling out a new feature or third-party-app-integration pretty much daily. I experienced some errors in the first week (totally expected for such a new service), but not since. The main developers are incredibly communicative, passionate, and dedicated.

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