If I had to explain Twitter to someone for the first time, I would say that it's an addicting social news feed of my friends' status or commentary. It's micro-blogging. Pushing out a tweet to 10 or 10,000 people is as easy as sending a text message.
But there is a new piece of open source software that allows you to build your own Twitter. Laconi.ca, an open microblogging tool implements the OpenMicroBlogging protocol. The system supports OpenID, uses Jabber to send update, and has an expanding API.
Laporte is doing a live discussion right now about this topic, and I can't keep refreshing the page fast enough.
“These are the communication services of the future” -Leo Laporte
The possibilities here are endless. Imagine having a customized microblog at your company, or in your classroom. What about a subdomain for your blog called chat.mysite.com that allows you to have a live conversation all the time, regardless of how much content you are posting?
This is revolutionary, and Laconi.ca is only the first implementation. I hope to see more open standards for microblogging in the future, especially with Microsoft getting ready to launch Mesh. Microblogging is becoming open source, data is becoming more portable, and it's exciting.
UPDATE: A correction: “You referenced Trac, when in reality "track" (the verb) is what you meant. Tracking is real-time notification of messages containing a particular keyword that you specify, and is available for Identi.ca (with more Laconi.ca versions supported soon) by way of @dustin”