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19 April 32010 / Robin Wellner

The World of Microblogging

Yes, you are reading a post about Twitter. And, but first Twitter.

If someone would have asked me several years ago whether a service based on sending others messages of less than 140 characters would ever catch on, I would have said no. And yet Twitter seems — alright, let me stop this right there.

I’m not going to have the standard talk on Twitter; everyone knows it by hart already. We know short status updates are fun, are interesting for writers (because making everything fit inside a tweet requires care, if you have something to say) and have been a great support for democracy.

This is not about politicians tweeting while they should be putting their effort in improving the world. By the way, I still think Twitter has a good chance of being able to close the gap between politics and the real world, but those tweets should be sent by someone behind the scenes, probably someone with a clerical function, but not those in parliament or office. The only use tweeting heads have, is creating and sustaining a modern image for that person or party.

No, this is about Iran. Remember last year’s elections? How nice it is, to have a system in place that allows groups as the Iranian protesters to raise their voice and make themselves heard.¹

And that’s good, right? All this freedom of information, in a proprietary setting, controlled by a single company… what could possibly go wrong here?

For those worrying about Twitter’s hidden dangers, there are open-source alternatives. Such as

However, doesn’t fit me quite as good as Twitter. It is much more advanced, that is true, but at the same time it’s too complicated. It has all these features and concepts and before you even get started you are confused to no end.

It just feels uncomfortable. It also seems to be rather “free-focussed”: there is hardly any visible activity that isn’t focussed on Open Source projects or Free Software or related subjects.

Well, that’s not completely true, but you get a pretty good idea what is about if you look at the public time line. is actually more commercial than Twitter. Or so they promised. I don’t know what their current state is.

Anyway, enough of this rambling.

¹ footnote: right of free speech is not right to be a dick, is often viewed separately but must be seen in conjunction with freedom of assembly and association, freedom of opinion and freedom of the press


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