Open Source Tweeting

Can we liberate tweeting from Twitter? It's an open question. And it's one that Dave Winer hopes we can answer, in response to his post We need: An open source Twitter shell. He begins,
It would do more or less exactly what the website does. Same prefs, same commands, same user experience. Think Apache for the Twitter user interface.
What Dave proposes is decentralized, open, and adaptive in ways a centralized proprietary platform like Twitter can't be:
let’s create an open source client that can be repurposed in as many different ways as we, as individuals want. Some of us may want to do deals with Twitter Corp, and that’s fine — but others may wish to embark on paths that are independent of Twitter. They wouldn’t try to guess what would make the platform vendor happy, and instead follow the grain of the Internet, or go where the users want to go, or some users, or to scratch their own itch. Some may want to be part of the Cathedral and others part of the Bazaar.

Dave isn't sure yet what it should be. Maybe some readers can help. For now, Dave writes,

Probably a JavaScript framework that comes with a Twitter timeline object. So displaying a timeline is automatic as are the user interactions. So any kind of client, one written in any language — Python, Perl, Java, JavaScript, PHP, C, etc — could store data in it. It wouldn’t know anything about the Twitter API. It would be up to the applications to put data in the structure.

It would do more or less exactly what the website does. Same prefs, same commands, same user experience. Think Apache for the Twitter user interface. It would, of course, be programmable through a user scripting language.

Having this one component would let a thousand flowers bloom in exactly the place where we need them to bloom. The key thing is to find out what would happen if we could take a path that was not designed to please the platform vendor. Note I carefully did not say “to piss off the platform vendor.” I really do mean to chart courses that are independent of the vendor.

There's more. Read the whole thing. And let us know what you think. Or, better yet, how you can help.

Bonus link.


Doc Searls is Senior Editor of Linux Journal


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problem with second link

Tommy's picture

The link to Dave's posting is broken. The link is to

which doesn't work... Should it link to a posting at ??


Mitch Frazier's picture


Mitch Frazier is an Associate Editor for Linux Journal.

Getting In Touch with Dave

Gary Santoro's picture

I do think Dave is on to something here. BTW if any folks see him, please let him know he has clients (I for one) who are seeking his help.

Linux News's picture

I also agree with the first comment. Same question. What exactly does twitter provide that you can't already get via IRC?

What exactly does twitter

Anonymous's picture

What exactly does twitter provide that you can't already get via IRC?

Java script...ew

David Lane's picture

I am all in favour of an open tweeting platform, right up until I read the dreaded java script. Second only to Flash on my list of technologies that need to be banned from the web. But I like the idea in general, but lets keep it so that it will work on a variety of platforms.

David Lane, KG4GIY is a member of Linux Journal's Editorial Advisory Panel and the Control Op for Linux Journal's Virtual Ham Shack

Ya, It Is

PXLated's picture

I know Dave knows about Status/Identica as Steve Gilmore tried to get everyone over there when he hated Twitter for ditching track. What does Dave want that isn't already in existence (except for he wasn't involved)?
The trouble with even though SG tried to lure others over was that everyone was on Twitter, very few on People go where the people are. Will probably be the case with any other initiative too.


Doc Searls's picture

I don't want to knock (nor, and I don't think Dave does either. He can correct me if I'm wrong (and I might be), but Dave believes we're all still stuck, even with around, and he wants to get development moving. By characterizing the effort as a shell, he's saying he wants something less (simpler, less bundled) than Twitter or -- and more likely to invite developers and new uses. (Hence the Apache analogy.)

Doc Searls is Senior Editor of Linux Journal

already here

imabug's picture

Most of what Dave Winer is asking for is already here in the form of (formerly laconica), which is what powers had groups and conversation threading almost from the start, and way before Twitter came out with similar features. can also be federated so you can have communications between different instances. and it's all open-source.

Should there be just one open source microblogging toolkit?

Doc Searls's picture

Could be you're right. We should also note that for many application categories there are a number of applications, toolkits, languages and the rest of it. There should be room within microblogging for more than one approach to solving any number of problems.

Dave is making an appeal here. If it turns out that covers all the bases (or enough of them), and no developers are interested in joining Dave's efforts, well, that's fine. And if some want to join, that's fine too. The beauty of open source is that the choice is there.

Doc Searls is Senior Editor of Linux Journal