Welcome to Identi.ca – it’s not YAMS

This isn’t Yet Another Microblogging Service

Indenti.ca, a Twitter-like micro-blogging service, launched yesterday to much chatter in the echo-chamber. At first glance it’s the latest in a long line of Twitter clones and attempts to improve the micro-blogging experience. Identi.ca is different, though, and has the potential to re-arrange our online communications.

Identi.ca is powered by software called Laconica – a distributed, or federated, service that allows an infinite number of independent servers to run the service to create the network. The major benefit here is that if one service goes down, it doesn’t take to whole network with it – a la Twitter.

Let’s imagine a network of 5000 Identica users distributed across 5 services: identi.ca (2500), notidenti.ca (1500), notidenti.com (500), notidenti.net (250), notidenti.org (250).

If one of those (lets say notidenti.org) happpens to go down it only take a portion of the network with it. If my account is with one of the other providers, I may not even notice, unless a large number of my ‘friends’ are on with that provider. Wow.

Email as a model

As I pondered the implications of this, it occurred to me that this may end up looking much like the email network. There are many providers of email services. Yahoo, Google & Microsoft are the big three for free web-based email while ISPs collectively have a huge chunk of the network. Large organizations (dell, hp, ibm, Ford, etc) make up another huge portion. Then there’s folks like me that have vanity email addresses. As much as we all like to complain about email and its unreliability, it’s a pretty robust system because it’s distributed. Imagine if email worked the way Twitter does – either the whole thing works – or it doesn’t. Unthinkable.

I’m not moving yet

I’m resisting the urge to run over to identi.ca and signup. Why? If we all migrate over there from Twitter, we’re just creating the same mega-node that has the potential to take down the entire system if someone trips over a cable – or something.

What I’m hoping to see next week – or at least through July – is a few dozen public Laconica providers that we can over which we can distribute the Twitter-verse. I’m planning to launch one myself once the Identica code stabilizes over the next week or so.

[I’m still trying to absorb the implications of this, and I know there lots of smart folks doing the same… and maybe we’re over-stating things. But maybe not.]

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