The debate over whether Twitter has become so important a form of communication that it should be standardized — and thereby removed in some sense from the company that created it — has been going on for awhile now, and recently reared its head again on the Gillmor Gang, the podcast run by tech guru Steve Gillmor. As described by blogger Chris Gerrish, the discussion focused on how a more decentralized Twitter-style “micro-blogging” standard could effectively take over from the service, something Gerrish calls “A Venezuelan moment,” in what I assume is a reference to Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez and his various nationalization schemes.

I wrote about this awhile back, and many people scoffed at the idea that Twitter was important enough to be having these kinds of conversations, although Marc Canter has compared it to the domain name system that powers the Internet, and Dave Winer has said he’s afraid that losing Twitter could be like losing Web pages from the early days of the Internet (although he has praised Gerrish’s post).

A couple of fascinating side-points to this debate: The first is Steve Gillmor’s long and (in classic Gillmor style) rambling and fundamentally disjointed guest post on TechCrunch about this debate, in which he compares Twitter and “the cloud” to the blood-brain barrier (incorrectly, according to one commenter) and compares Yahoo to Hillary Clinton, then closes with a quote from a Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young song. One commenter calls it “lazy, badly-written, undergraduate nonsense,” while another refers to it as “possibly the worst TechCrunch post ever.” As Joel Spolsky has written in the past, Steve Gillmor is not an easy guy to understand even at the best of times.

The other interesting thing is a comment made on Gerrish’s post by none other than Blaine Cook, the former chief technology architect at Twitter, who recently departed the company in what became a controversial exit. In addition to saying that he built the service’s “track” feature in just 12 hours, Cook suggests that allowing other services to “federate” or integrate with Twitter’s features wouldn’t be difficult at all. Could Twitter become a kind of micro-blogging standard?

About the author

Mathew 2429 posts

I'm a Toronto-based senior writer with Fortune magazine, and my favorite things to write about are social technology, media and the evolution of online behavior

5 Responses to “Twitter: the decentralization debate”
  1. um, dude. check yer facts. steve hasn't been a zdnet blogger for quite some time.

    • Thanks, er… Big Hoss. I guess I got thrown off by the fact that his
      ZDNet blog is still the first result for his name when you search it
      in Google — plus I think he's still a “contributing editor,” whatever
      that means. In any case, thanks for the tip.

  2. […] Twitter: the decentralization debate » mathewingram.com/work | At least noted in a few places that the character limitation is the key strength of Twitter. Even when image and video info is linked vial tinyurls. (tags: twitter) […]

  3. Interesting post. I have made a twitter post about this. Others no doubt will like it like I did.

  4. Interesting post. I have made a twitter post about this. Others no doubt will like it like I did.

Comments are closed.