The Twitter House That Jack (and Evan) Built May Be Taken Over By… Everyone
There’s been a lot of movement in the last week or so in the field of micro-blogging, from discussions about searching on Twitter, the fund raising of both TweetDeck (an Adobe Air based client) and Indenti.ca (an open source micro-blogging platform that mirrors Twitter’s functionality).
All of this is built on the principles of Twitter – an API that everyone can interact with is the main reason this has been possible – but there’s more and more movement away from the central Twitter service to having clients that talk to just the database from your computer, or that build up their own Twitter like services that can talk with each other (the federated model). Search functionality, tracking, threading of comments, all of these are not done by Twitter, on their server, but by others.
If Twitter were to suddenly disappear, what would happen? Well it has happened before, and everyone on Twitter moaned a lot, wrote a lot of blog posts, but the only alternative then was Jaiku. But with a much less mature third party toolset, and little thought on transferring the information of your contacts, Twitter muddled through and didn’t bleed off their user base.
The result would not be the same now. Yes there would still be the problem of getting your friends out of Twitter (the data portability issue that is the last refuge of any dying Web 2.0 Service, not that Twitter is dying), but after that there are countless twitter like services that are using similar standards, that can all talk to each other in a cloud. It’s rather like everyone having the ability to host their own server for websites and blogs. They all talk to each other nicely as well.
There are tools that can talk to all these services. Companies would be more than happy to have an ‘internal facing’ Twitter as well as a public facing option for employees.
Where does all this leave Twitter? All the innovation I see seems to be in spite of Twitter, not from Twitter. There’s every chance that, just like Pyra and Blogger before, Evan Williams could be building the tool that proves the concept but does not reap the massive benefits.