Musings on Twitter and Identi.ca

[fr] Depuis la fameuse histoire des @replies de Twitter (pour info, il est maintenant impossible de voir les @replies qu'envoient les gens que vous suivez si vous ne suivez pas également leur destinataire, et donc les conversations partielles disparaissent silencieusement de votre radar) j'ai commencé une lente migration vers identi.ca.

Identi.ca est un système open-source concurrent à Twitter, mais qui fonctionne également comme client Twitter. Il est donc possible, en utilisant identi.ca, de continuer à être actif sur Twitter comme avant.

Je vous conseille vivement de réserver sur identi.ca le même pseudonyme que celui que vous avez sur Twitter (cela aide à l'interopérabilité) et à me suivre là-bas. Si je ne vous suis pas sur identi.ca et que je le fais sur Twitter, faites-moi remarquer la chose!

Ever since the #fixreplies debacle, I have been distancing myself from Twitter a little. Don’t get me wrong: I’m still enthusiastic about Twitter, encourage people to join, and hope that new people I meet have an account there. But I’m slowly moving my eggs out of my one single Twitter-basket and starting to use identi.ca.

For those who missed it, the #fixreplies thing happened earlier this year. Twitter suddenly and unilaterally changed the way one viewed @reply updates sent by people one was following. Previously, there was a setting of sorts allowing you to control if you wanted to see @reply messages only when they were addressed to a person you were also following (the default), or if you wanted to see all of them (that’s the way it worked before Twitter “implemented” @replies, by the way, when it was just a user hack), or if you just do not want to see @replies (probably because you believe that “Twitter isn’t IM” or something).

Over the previous year, Twitter contended that the @replies setting was confusing (I think it was, but more because it was poorly worded than because the functionality itself was confusing), determined that for some obscure technical reason (we still don’t know which one, to the best of my knowledge) that the setting had to go, and noting that a full 98% of people were using the default setting anyway, they simply scrapped it.

Followed a huge uproar, lots of lamenting (by myself included), requests for Twitter to change things back the way they were — to no avail. Twitter apologized for the poor communication around the issue, told us they couldn’t keep the setting because the technical cost was too high, and basically suggested that they would offer grieving fans of that setting other exciting options to discover new users.

Only, it’s not just about discovering new users. It’s as simple as wanting to see all the tweets of people I follow, not just those Twitter considers relevant. In this case, they happen to consider that partial conversations are irrelevant. They’re relevant to me because they’re part of the lives of the people I follow (discovery of new users is just a really fun and valuable by-product of that).

So, enough of this already. The point here is that Twitter decides something, and Twitter does it. We are in a benevolent dictatorship position here, as we are for many of the tools we use online everyday. It’s a risk we take and I’m generally happy to — but when the benevolent dictator of a tool I rely upon as a backbone of my online life starts making changes that upset me, I start looking around.

Enter open source, interoperable standards, etc.

Identi.ca is an “open source version of Twitter”, one could say (the engine running it is called Laconica) — it basically works the same way and has the same features (at first view in any case). Contrarily to the vague of Twitter rip-offs or clones we started seeing all over the place, the important thing to note is that this project is open source. I know I’m not an open source expert and I happily mix up things that are important distinctions for people who are more involved in the “scene” than I am, but here’s what it means for me, as an end user (fellow geeks, correct me if I’m saying silly things here):

  • people can contribute to the code
  • people can take the code in another direction if they’re not happy with what the main development group is happy
  • who knows, maybe some kind of plugin architecture will be implemented (this is a wild guess of mine)
  • it’s based on an open, interoperable standard
  • think “GTalk vs. MSN”

There are of course certainly a full pile of other advantages to Laconica (the fact that it’s decentralized for example) but I’ll stop there.

The big problem, of course, is the people. Most people are on Twitter. Today, I’m following 567 people and am followed by 2481 on Twitter. On identi.ca, despite my best efforts, I’ve reached the staggering figures of 95 (followees) and 127 (followers).

So, should one “move” to identi.ca?

The answer is yes, and “move” is a bit of a dramatic word here.

Identi.ca acts as a Twitter client, which means that all to notices you send through identi.ca are automatically sent to Twitter too, and you can subscribe to your Twitter stream in identi.ca. You can in fact start using identi.ca without abandoning Twitter.

Twitter settings - Identi.ca

The best way to do this is to register the same username on identi.ca as you are using on Twitter (I’m @stephtara on both, here is my account on Twitter and my account on identi.ca). Head over to the Twitter settings tab to connect your accounts. Identi.ca will help you add people you know on both services.

Of course, there are caveats:

  • identi.ca is not your favourite Twitter client (if you’re using something like Tweetdeck, Seesmic Desktop, Twitterrific, Tweetie, etc.) — I’m personally waiting for identi.ca support in Seesmic Desktop and Tweetie on the iPhone
  • the site will sometimes throw errors at you (but on the other hand, Twitter is regularly down, isn’t it?)
  • “Twitter” and “tweet” are really the better names
  • it’s a tad more work than just continuing to use Twitter, but remember, you’re in the process of moving your eggs out of the proverbial basket.

I’m personally pretty happy with identi.ca, and like the way it seems in active development (Twitter is too, but it’s a mammoth now that Oprah‘s been there).

I’m all the more happy now that I’ve read that Twitter plans to implement support for retweets, and that it seems this will happen by removing the “RT @whoever:” intro from the beginning of the tweet, and add that information in a small byline after the tweet. My semi-automatic screening of retweets from compulsive retweeters will be a thing of the past!

So, if you haven’t done it yet, go and claim your username on identi.ca (you can use OpenID), follow me there, and nag me to follow you if I’m not but I am following you on Twitter.

See you on identi.ca!

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This entry was posted in Social Media and the Web and tagged #fixreplies, comparison, identi.ca, musings, ownership, retweet, Social Media and the Web, Social Software, social tools, twitter. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Musings on Twitter and Identi.ca

  1. Pingback: Stephanie Booth (stephtara) 's status on Sunday, 16-Aug-09 08:35:39 UTC - Identi.ca

  2. Florent V. says:

    I decided not to use identi.ca when i saw that they publish your messages with a Creative Commons Attribution license. This is unclear in the website pages as they state that “All Identi.ca content and data are available under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license” but do not specifically say that your public messages (tweets) are Identi.ca content and data. But the Terms of Service are more specific, and include this statement:

    By submitting Content to Operator [Identi.ca] for inclusion on your Website, you grant all readers the right to use, re-use, modify and/or re-distribute the Content under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0.

    This is a bit strange as well as the term Website (capitalized) in those TOS means Identi.ca. And as the User doesn’t own Identi.ca, the phrase “your Website” shouldn’t mean anything. But i expect it to be a typo (“your” instead of “the”), given the context.

    Bottom line: you don’t control the copyright terms of the content you publish on Identi.ca. Technically, it means that somebody can make a copy of all your messages, then republish that copy, even if you decide to delete/retire some or all of this content. Creative Commons Attribution is basically Public Domain…

    Now don’t get me wrong: i like Creative Commons licenses and most of the Free Culture movement. I may publish some works using such licenses. But i just don’t want to publish my tweets with an automatic close-to-public-domain license. So no Identi.ca for me, ever.

  3. Stephanie says:

    Hey Florent: if the topic is of interest for you, have you checked out http://scinfolex.wordpress.com/2009/06/14/twitter-et-le-droit-dauteur-vers-un-copyright-2-0/ ? It’s in French but links to posts on the topic in English.

  4. karl says:

    Salut Stephanie,

    There is one small issue about twitter-identica. You have to leave your twitter login/password on the site identica. It is a known issue in terms of security. Basically the first answer is that you should never do that. It makes your profile more vulnerable.

    See http://adactio.com/journal/1357 http://microformats.org/wiki/social-network-anti-patterns#Enter_your_other_site_login_and_password

    À part cela, identi.ca est en effet très bien. :)

  5. Stephanie says:

    Tu as raison, ils devraient vraiment utiliser OAuth — surtout qu’ils l’utilisent ailleurs!!

  6. Pingback: James (kona) 's status on Tuesday, 01-Sep-09 09:16:02 UTC - Identi.ca

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