Microblogging30 Aug 2008
The current king of microblogging is Twitter. Unfortunately for Twitter users, technical issues plague the service. It's frequently down or overloaded. Every time a world event takes place, everyone puts in their two cents, which leads to the site being unavailable. Sometimes these chaos events take place at seemingly random times.
On the outside it would appear to be an issue of scalability. For instance, one person with a thousand followers posts one update, that update must then be queried by all of those users. Presumably these updates don't happen all at the same time but as usage increases so does the strain on the system.
From the Twitter Developer Blog:
Twitter is, fundamentally, a messaging system. Twitter was not architected as a messaging system, however. For expediency's sake, Twitter was built with technologies and practices that are more appropriate to a content management system. Over the last year and a half we've tried to make our system behave like a messaging system as much as possible, but that's introduced a great deal of complexity and unpredictability. When we're in crisis mode, adding more instrumentation to help us navigate the web of interdependencies in our current architecture is often our primary recourse. This is, clearly, not optimal.
The problem for the community is that since they've spent so much time gathering friends on the site they cannot easily migrate to another service. There are contenders waiting to supplant Twitter though. Laconica is a distributed open-source microblogging system. Laconica has the ability to push updates from one server to another thus making server to server updates possible. This approach makes it possible to follow people across any number of servers. An example of this is Identi.ca. Since the Laconica system uses OpenID all installations will authenticate users in exactly the same way. One username and password across the board. OpenID is a very robust set of technologies and one which many major services already support, you probably already have one and don't even know it.
Another open-source microblogging tool OpenMicroBlogger.