[sf-lug] any opinions or thoughts on identi.ca?

Sameer Verma sverma at sfsu.edu
Sun Sep 13 12:14:12 PDT 2009

On Sat, Sep 12, 2009 at 3:11 AM, Kai Chang <kai.salmon.chang at gmail.com> wrote:
> I think twitter's api is fantastic quite frankly, and their TOS
> changes are commendable.  It's growing fast and has a large user base.
>  Not that identi.ca, tumblers and others don't fill interesting niches
> themselves.  But twitter's all about the massive networking effects
> and open source alternatives just don't provide that sometimes.  I use
> pidgin just because of gmail and aim, for instance.  All this
> microblogging's gotta coalesce a little better for me to jump
> platforms.
> Kai, new here from Virginia

Hello Kai, and welcome to SF-LUG

I think the real value in any social networking (SN) platform
(twitter, facebook, identi.ca) is the network value - the dots that it
helps connect. If, for instance, twitter were to be powered by
laconi.ca software, its value wouldn't change much from the SN point
of view, to its users. Twitter may actually gain a few more users who
would like the fact that its FOSS powered, but people use twitter not
so much for the platform as for following @lessig or @cdibona etc.

The software is an enabler, but its only one component of the
"service". The consumer will look at it as one service and not in
separate layers, as technologists do. You could run your own service
on laconi.ca but unless others buy into your service's value, you'll
be a network of 1. In this context, I find it interesting that while
e-mail continues to work across all sorts of brands and networks
(thanks to RFC 822 and beyond) IM and SN networks continue to be
siloed. Some work across (twitter to FB, ping.fm) but these are
"middleware" hacks at best to a problem that could be better served
with standards. Each network owner wants its own silo to itself, to
propagate its brand, service, etc. not realizing that if they did open
it up to other networks the potential value would be so much more.

If we are to believe Bob Metcalfe
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metcalfe%27s_law), then the value of a
network is proportional to the square of the number of connected users
of the system. A network of "a" users has value proportional to
square(a). Similarly, a network of "b" users has value proportional to
square(b). But, a combined network will have a value proportional to
square(a+b) which is square(a) + square(b) +2*(ab). The 2(ab) is where
the cheese is at, so to speak. That's the extra value, which many
services like twitter don't think is worth more than what their
branded silo provides. Once the value of 2*ab becomes larger than what
they think their brand's worth, they'll open it up!

Dr. Sameer Verma, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Information Systems
Director, Center for Business Solutions
San Francisco State University

> On 9/12/09, Christian Einfeldt <einfeldt at gmail.com> wrote:
>> hi,
>> On Fri, Sep 11, 2009 at 6:37 PM, Michael Shiloh <michaelshiloh1010 at gmail.com
>>> wrote:
>>> i finally joined identi.ca, the OSS alternative to twitter. not that i'm
>>> such a big twitter user anyway, but i figure i should put my tweets where
>>> my
>>> mouth is, as it were.
>> I haven't researched this issue much, but Identi.ca touts its service as
>> being more Free (as in Free Speech) than Twitter.  They claim that it is
>> easier to fork their service than Twitter.  I am on Identi.ca as einfeldt .
>> I use Identi.ca because of their emphasis on Free (as in Free Speech).  I
>> have not actually tried to use any of Identi.ca's features for data or
>> software portability (since I am a relatively simple end user incapable of
>> doing so), but I am supporting Identi.ca for the same reason that I try to
>> use only Free Software when I can.
>> For me, Twitter is a necessary evil, the same way that Gmail is a necessary
>> evil.  I wouldn't use Google's products if there were Free alternatives that
>> allow me to do things as easily as I can with Google.  Gmail's ability to
>> search my vast inbox of 41k emails is simply astounding.  Likewise, Twitter
>> is very popular and has good reach.  So I use those two services without
>> pretending that they are much more than a necessary evil.  And Google does
>> employ several key FOSS developers and supports lots of FOSS coding.  And
>> Twitter, like Google and Facebook, etc., are commercially prominent examples
>> of innovative stuff that you can do with GNU-Linux.  We really need to find
>> more ways to make money with Free Software.  So even though Twitter's
>> services employ non-Free software, and is less Free than Identi.ca, I use
>> them both.  But I am on Identi.ca because I like the fact that they go
>> farther toward supporting Free Software and Free Data.
>> Here is what Identi.ca has to say about its emphasis on Free:
>> ##################
>> http://identi.ca/doc/faq
>> How is Identi.ca different from Twitter, Jaiku, Pownce, Plurk, others?
>> Identi.ca is an Open Network Service <http://opendefinition.org/ossd>. Our
>> main goal is to provide a fair and transparent service that preserves users'
>> autonomy. In particular, all the software used for Identi.ca is Free
>> Software <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_Software>, and all the data is
>> available under the Creative Commons Attribution
>> 3.0<http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/>license, making it
>> Open Data.
>> The software also implements the
>> OpenMicroBlogging<http://openmicroblogging.org/>protocol, meaning that
>> you can have friends on other microblogging services
>> that can receive your notices.
>> The goal here is *autonomy* -- you deserve the right to manage your own
>> on-line presence. If you don't like how Identi.ca works, you can take your
>> data and the source code and set up your own server (or move your account to
>> another one).
>> #####################
> --
> Kai Chang  |  kai.salmon.chang at gmail.com
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