My honourable friend Dave Winer says A decentralized Twitter? (Scripting News) : We do need to figure out how to build a Twitter-like system with all the advantages of centralization and none of the disadvantages.

To which I say "Nice", what an interesting thought experiment.

So here goes.

The core of Twitter is micro-blogging. This is well handled already by a subset of RSS. Or rather RSS with an etiquette imposed. Let's call it TSS.
- No Titles
- Limited length description. I find 160chars, not quite enough so let's say 255.
- A Channel name and thumbnail image.

The next bit is the Following, Followed by social graph. We can do following with OPML because it's basically a set of TSS feeds.

Followed by is harder though. This is where one or more aggregators needs to step in and collect all the OPML files so that you can answer the question "Who follows this person". This is the same problem as aggregating FOAF to answer "Who says they know this person".

Now we need a simple micro-blogging engine some thing like a cut down wordpress that understands all this. Enterprising people could provide this as a hosted solution. It needs to both display the incoming feeds and make it really easy to post. And it could copy the Twitter API so that you could use developments of your favourite Twitter helper program

So far so good. Now since Twitter already has RSS feeds this same system could pull in your Twitter like feeds not just from Twitter, but also from all the other Twitter like status systems. Facebook, MySpace, Pownce, Jaiku et al. At which point it becomes obvious that we've already got a decentralised system. It's just that we're not very good yet about grouping them all together.

The bit missing in here is SMS. So there's another opportunity for someone to provide service to the cloud.

What's interesting here is that I'm already doing this by using Twitterfeed and Twitter to gather feeds from Facebook, Twitter, Jaiku and Ecademy Status updates. There's quite a few other similar systems. But that's all too geeky for most people. There's already a need for a simpler system to do that.

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[ 16-Jan-08 8:16pm ] [ , ]