dave winer – Stay N Alive

It’s Time to Free the Twitter Client

infocard_114x80Dave Winer wants a programmable Twitter client. I think it’s a great idea.  It’s something the browser has had for quite awhile now via extensions, frameworks, and plugins.  Up until this point Twitter clients have been closed systems that can’t really be extended in any way.  Loic Lemeur thinks he has the answer with the ability to extend his company’s Seesmic Desktop client – I applaud them for this – it’s something that I think would allow apps like my SocialToo.com to help clean up the stream both in and out of Twitter.  In this way the Twitter client isn’t stuck with exclusive relationships where partners have to pay large sums of money to participate.  Developers and users have full control over the experience they get from the client.  I have a recommendation for Loic, Iain, and other social browser developers though: extend your browsers using open standards if you’re going to do it.

Up to this point we’ve been talking server-based open architectures.  You have OpenID, OAuth, Wave, rssCloud, Pubsub Hubbub, heck, you even have HTTP, SMTP, and even TCP/IP.  But up until now there haven’t been many client-based architectures that extend across any client enabling developers to easily write code for any web client on the client side and have that port from the AIR client to another AIR client, to the browser, and to any other app that touches the web.  Fortunately that technology is here now, and I think the Twitter and Facebook client developers have the opportunity to push this stuff mainstream and put pressure on the generic web browser developers to do the same with their own extension architectures.  That technology is the Selector – Action cards.

Craig Burton said the Cookie is dead, and this is why:  Cookies can’t extend across multiple applications on a single computer.  The Selector has that potential.  Imagine a plugin architecture that read an Information Card to identify you on Twitter or Facebook, etc.  You could add to it an Action card from a site like SocialToo (my site), and based on that Action card and the settings set forth in the Action card by the user the entire Seesmic Desktop experience will be customized based on the settings SocialToo set for that user based on their preferences.  The cool thing about this is it can all be done in simple (and open) Javascript using frameworks like Kynetx’ KRL.

If I were Loic Lemeur I would seriously be studying the open standard of Information cards and especially Action cards right now.  He has the opportunity to follow an open standard in this plugin development architecture that would extend across his app into other apps and even the browser.  This is Seesmic’s opportunity to lead in this effort.  If not other clients will take the ball by embracing these standards – developers will flock to this if it’s done right.

My hope is that Seesmic and any other Twitter or Facebook client can do these plugin architectures the right way.  Information cards and Action cards right now are the most open and extensive way for any desktop (or even mobile) client to put control back in the developers’, and more importantly, the users’ hands.  I hope they do the right thing.

I commented on Loic’s blog post but did not receive a response – hopefully we can hear more about their plans for this new architecture soon, and let’s hope it’s built on open standards.  If you write the first Twitter client to support Information cards or Action cards let me know and you’ll get a big fat blog post here promoting the heck out of it.  As far as I’m concerned, that’s the future of the web and we need to be pushing it as much as possible.  I’m calling all client developers to action.

Be sure to read my article on my vision for no log in buttons here – it will help you understand this stuff, and more of my vision, even further.


Dave Winer to Bring Realtime RSS to Millions via WordPress.com?

realtimeToday in a very inconspicuous post by Dave Winer, he demonstrated that his new real-time RSS protocol, rssCloud, could very soon be available to the millions of blogs, real-time on WordPress.com.  Dave Winer, who played perhaps the most significant role in defining the RSS standard and the subsequent RSS 2.0 standard through which most blogs are read today, is taking the long-known extension to the RSS protocol to the masses with some sort of relationship he has built with Automattic, the owners of WordPress.com.

rssCloud vs. PubSub Hubbub

rssCloud was defined in its early form in 2001 as a solution to provide a “next step” for RSS to get instantaneous updates from blogs or websites wishing to push information immediately to readers.  The readers weren’t quite ready for the standard at the time (see the Guitar Scene in Back to the Future), so it sat stale until this year when real-time updates again came to front and center for getting and retrieving massive amounts of information as they happen through sites like Twitter.  Dave Winer says he adapted it in order to provide a better, more open microblogging solution that works outside and independent of Twitter.

Here’s how Winer explains it works:

1. The Writer gets an idea.

2. He or she enters it into the authoring tool, saves, it goes to a file, a feed.

3. The authoring software sends an Update ping to the Cloud (which is just a bit of software running on EC2).

4. The Cloud checks to see if anyone is subscribing to the Writer, and finds that indeed the Aggregator is.

5. He updated! says the Cloud to the Aggregator.

6. The aggregator then reads the feed, finds the new stuff and informs the Reader.

After less than a second the Aggregator has the update and the user is reading the content, real-time.

Pubsub Hubbub works similar.  With this protocol, you have a “hub”, rather than the cloud, and the content provider pings the “hub” for every new post.  The reader can then request to be notified by the hub (or hubs) if there is any new data.  Google has taken the initiative on this particular protocol and is utilizing FeedBurner as their initial hub.  The protocol is also designed for mostly blogs, rather than microblogs, which seems to be the space which Winer is targeting with rssCloud.

What’s the difference?  Quite honestly I’m trying to figure that out myself.  It would seem that the major differences are that a) with rssCloud, feeds expire after 24 hours, so aggregators need to make at least one call a day to notify the Cloud that they want to be notified.  This has the advantage in that the Cloud doesn’t have to continue pinging even when aggregators aren’t there, but also increases the number of calls an aggregator must make.

The other difference is that Dave Winer is an individual developer while Google is a big company.  If you ask me that doesn’t matter much due to the fact that these are both open protocols and both seek to decentralize the control of our data.  Google’s response is disconcerting though where they seem to try and discredit Winer’s protocol.  The more of these protocols the better (also see the OpenMicroblogging protocol).  However, it is very appealing to see an individual developer, the inventor of RSS, so-to-say, take a protocol that has been around much longer and adapt it to work with modern standards.  I want to see Dave succeed, but I hope they all work together.  This is a space everyone benefits, despite the competition.  Keep in mind that Dave isn’t the only guy behind this protocol either – there is an entire governing board that manages this standard.
Competition for Twitter?

So with this potential development, what does this mean for WordPress?  First, millions of blogs will now instantly be real-time in the same way Twitter is real-time.  Second, where Dave Winer wants rssCloud to be targeted towards the micro blogging space this could very well mean WordPress could be looking at something in that area to compete with Twitter.   I predicted this at the beginning of this year, remember?

Here’s what I see happening: Automattic will utilize its BuddyPress and P2 platforms to create a decentralized microblogging platform that utilizes rssCloud to provide real-time updates.  Wordpress.com will be extended to enable “mini-blogs” which accompany your existing blog and provide real time status updates anyone can subscribe to.  Clients like Seesmic, TweetDeck, and PeopleBrowsr will utilize the rssCloud protocol as Aggregators and allow you to view all this data in one place in ways you could never do before.

Dave Winer’s demonstration today is HUGE news for the blogging world and decentralized micro-blogging.  I can’t wait to see what happens.

UPDATE: You can download the WordPress plugin for rssCloud here.  StayNAlive.com is now officially one of the first rssCloud-enabled blogs on the internet.