Has open microblogging arrived?

I did not report on this when the first open microblogging implementation (i.e. identi.ca, laconi.ca) was announced and this will not be news to twitterfans and specialist geekdom.

But, it is a crucial new achievement for interoperability and open standards, and seems to be speeding up.

So here is the rundown on the importance of open microblogging, we first present it’s importance in terms of open standards, through the words of Louis Gray.

1. What is Laconi.ca?

Louis Gray:

Laconi.ca is not a service, but rather a technology, and the founder and developer, Evan, of Identi.ca I think recognizes that. We’re seeing this as so many other microblogging services have come up recently, some others even open source. Identi.ca will evolve as it builds around this basic technology of microblogging and finds new ways to use it. What’s great is that they’re sharing the basic technology so that others can do the same and build their own creative services around the technology!”

And from the self-description:

“Identi.ca is an Open Network Service. Our main goal is to provide a fair and transparent service that preserves users’ autonomy. In particular, all the software used for Identi.ca is Free Software, and all the data is available under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license, making it Open Data.

The software also implements the OpenMicroBlogging protocol, meaning that you can have friends on other microblogging services that can receive your notices.

The goal here is autonomy — you deserve the right to manage your own on-line presence. If you don’t like how Identi.ca works, you can take your data and the source code and set up your own server (or move your account to another one).”

2. Why it is important:

Louis Gray:

Laconi.ca is building an actual Protocol underneath it all where other types of software can also communicate with Laconi.ca. This would put it almost in the same realm as Sendmail, which communicates with other mail server software via the SMTP protocol, or even Apache, which communicate with other web servers via the HTTP protocol, or even Bind, which communicates with other DNS servers via the DNS protocol. I could go on and on – Evan Prodromou, the founder of Identi.ca, is not just building another microblogging service. He’s developing a standard, along with software that adopts that standard so that you, too can build software that communicates with that standard! This is profound, and in my opinion we haven’t seen such innovation and selfless development of new communication techniques since the invention of the web itself. Identi.ca is in many ways building an entirely new, open layer of the internet.

Add to that the shared API built around the service and the fact that any software written for Identi.ca will work on almost any other Laconi.ca platform with just the change of a host name and you can quickly see the power of Identi.ca and the software that powers it.

Twitter seems to be completely ignoring this as they shut the doors on developers, try to develop entirely in-house, and build an entirely proprietary system. Businesses will quickly realize this, build software on the Laconi.ca platform, and as the customers and communities that follow those communities flock to their platforms, they will also naturally join other supported services such as identi.ca. Users will soon have no reason to be on Twitter any more if nothing is done. I always said developers would begin the demise of Twitter, and Laconi.ca’s making it awfully easy for that to happen. Unless Twitter adopts and opens up in a major way, they will fail.”

3. Open Microblogger as proof of concept

What Louis Gray predicted, is already happening, and here is a description of an implementation that is already available, Open Microblogger:

OpenMicroblogger.com and the accompanying open source software it is based on will talk to Identi.ca, and on a completely different code base. That means you can follow anyone on Identi.ca within the OpenMicroblogger.com service and vice-versa, and they were written from the ground up by two entirely different developers!

What’s even more amazing about this new platform is that while not a WordPress implementation, Brian seems to have made the platform almost entirely compatible with the WordPress plugin and theme API. So, basically, if you are a WordPress developer, you can write your own extensions to the code, implement your own versions of the code, and write your own themes, all in the same way you do on WordPress. ”

For more technical details about the latter project, read Jesse Stay’s report here.

4. In conclusion:

Jesse Stay:

This one simple and amazing example goes to show that we have only hit the tip of the iceberg here on microblogging technology. Now that a Protocol has been established, you will see more and more sites and developers write their own extensions of the protocol to implement their own creative microblogging solutions and layers. This very creative and innovative solution could just be a more advanced option than Laconi.ca to consider for Microbranded solutions in the future. Brian has taken “viral coding” to heart.”

You can download the code, try out, learn more and help out the OpenMicroblogger.org project over at http://openmicroblogger.org.

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