Too important for one company to rule the field

Thats how I generally feel about a lot of things. Microblogging included. Slate have a post (found via @tdobson via @technicalfault about the recent Twitter outage, which I've not really talked about too much yet.

Twitter is run by a single company in a single office building in San Francisco. When you send out a message, it flies about Twitter's servers and then alights in all your Twitter pals' cell phones and Tweetdecks. The system is fast and technologically simple, which helps explain its exponential growth.

But for Twitter, centralization is also a curse. In its early days, the site was known for its regular brokenness—its error-page logo, the “fail whale,” became a cultural shorthand for suckiness. Twitter went down so often because the idea behind Twitter—sending out short status updates to the world—became too popular for one company to handle.

I know Twitter's strategy is to connect everyone, but I don't see it. The big systems are interconnected with interoperable standards and work although on paper they wouldn't. Email, Newsgroups and the internet generally are good examples. All too important for one company to rule.

The rest of the post switches into looking towards alternatives. On one foot you got the open microblogging platforms such as Laconi.ca and Jaiku Engine. But then on the other you got the RSS extensions such as RSS Cloud and Google's new pubsubhubbub. Both approaches are valid and I can see room for both. I'd like to see pubsubhubbub in my desktop reader one day soon.

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Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.