Boris Mann

Open Source. Community. Decentralized Web. Building dev tools at Fission. Cooks & eats.


Twitter is Jabber, Part II

So, both Dave and Robert Scoble raked me over the coals for daring to say that a popular service with lots of users could be done differently. I had some good back and forth comments in Scoble's comment thread, re-posted below.

  • I don't plan on building a "Twitter killer" using Jabber
  • I don't think Twitter should go away...just that they might want to look at using Jabber directly as their core, which has many open benefits not the least of which is an automatic federation model
  • I don't claim that the entire Twitter community could be duplicated: yes, I understand "it's the users, stupid!"...I can still wish for technological improvements

From my comment on Robert's post

I’d love to see a Jabber-to-Twitter API that means all the rest of us outside the walls of Twitter could interoperate, peer, and all that good stuff.

Building it around one company, no matter how many users it has, doesn’t seem like a particularly good idea.

Facebook implemented SMS notifications (”just like Twitter”) and has a TON of users. If we had a standard like Jabber in the middle, people could have [email protected] accounts and [email protected] accounts. And it would all just work :P

A note on Jabber/XMPP: XMPP is an open, IETF standard that has been used to implement a lot of IM-like functionality in the past. It also happens to be a protocol that’s great for passing around any sort of data where real time or publish and subscribe models make sense.

It’s all about the users: so make it so that ALL the users can talk to each other in a real federation model (which works today with Jabber), rather than being locked in Twitter’s trunk.

Robert's response:

Boris: now joining Facebook and Twitter sounds like a great opportunity! Building a bridge between two islands adds value. Trying to replace the islands doesn’t interest me at all. Building a third island that connects the other two? Good too! I guess it’s all in the semantics.

He goes on to say that "Twitter is NOT IM or SMS" and that he uses mainly the web interface. So...I agree. It's *the* area where Twitter has been innovating. A perfect thing to build on top of an open standard and add value.

Also left as a parting word in comments:

To me, XMPP is a real time version of RSS. That's the very shortest description I can make that also highlights the power and potential I think the protocol/standard itself has.