Identi.ca fires pure open source against Twitter

Identi.ca fires pure open source against Twitter

Summary: Micro-blogging is best at conventions, meetings and other gatherings. It's shared IM, instant texting, with channels created on-the-fly. With better mobile Internet devices -- iPhones and their competitors -- any public meeting can have organized chatter and background noise. Conclusions can be reached before people leave the room.

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soap, from physicsforums.comAre pure open source principles, by themselves, enough to lend a start-up traction in the market?

Identi.ca hopes so. The Montreal-based start-up  is offering the micro-blogging functionality of Twitter under the Affero GPL license. The software also responds to something called the Open Microblogging specification -- the first to do so.

The software also supports the OpenID spec and offers a Creative Commons license for all content -- although you wonder why given what passes for micro-blog content. (I searched for images on micro-blogging -- this was at a Physics site. Wonders of the Web.)

In theory the new spec should allow users of sites like Twitter to twit other sites, but when you're the first to set a spec it's hard to call it a standard. In theory the AGPL gives users more freedom, and a greater level of obligation, than any other online license. But few projects use it and Google hates it.

So we're left with the standard questions:

  1. Will the Identi.ca software based on PEAR, PHP and XMPP, scale better than Twitter's Ruby-based system?
  2. Will it get a chance -- how many people really want to micro-blog?

Dave Rosenberg asks why he can't buy himself out of the Identi.ca AGPL but he has more money than I do.

My own view is that Twitter's initial success may be blinding us to the real purpose of micro-blogging, which was seen during the SXSW Zuckerberg interview.

Micro-blogging is best at conventions, meetings and other gatherings. It's shared IM, instant texting, with channels created on-the-fly. With better mobile Internet devices -- iPhones and their competitors -- any public meeting can have organized chatter and background noise. Conclusions can be reached before people leave the room.

There is a place for instant conventional wisdom. There is plenty of time for this niche to develop. So I don't think Identi.ca is too late to this market. In some ways it may be too early, because Dave is also making an important point.

Everyone needs a business model. Even if they use the Affero GPL license.

Topics: Open Source, CXO, IT Employment, Social Enterprise

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