open microblogging – Stay N Alive

"Fish Where the Fish Are" No Longer Applies

big_fishMy good friend, Jeremiah Owyang had a great quote he liked to share in his presentations, stating that the days of old-style marketing, forcing your customers to your site, no longer applied. He stated that we must “Fish Where the Fish Are“, and right he was. With the advent of Facebook, Twitter, FriendFeed, YouTube, MySpace, etc. it was now possible for companies to get into the conversations of their customers, where they were conversing rather than trying to get them back to their own site to encourage that. I’d like to suggest that even that philosophy’s evolving though, and like with the previous philosophy, Facebook’s leading the way.  Now, instead of “Fishing where the Fish are”, you can bring the entire lake to your website and again, those conversations are again all happening under your own brand. Now you get to fish in your own backyard.

Last year Facebook introduced Facebook Connect to developers to enable developers to integrate the Facebook Platform right on their own websites. I’m not sure developers or businesses fully knew what was coming at the time, but it sounded good.  Mark Zuckerberg talked about expanding the ability to share on Facebook to the web, and keeping the fine-grained privacy controls Facebook is known for along with that.  I believe a new way of marketing may have begun with that launch.

If you get a chance, go sign into through your Facebook login. Look – all your friends from Facebook just automatically got imported onto with just one click! And you never left the site.  Huffington Post gets this concept – their readers’ conversations on Facebook are all happening through their own website, and they’re enabling new conversations from that!  Their users never have to go back to Facebook to converse the news they’re reading with their friends.

Another great example is If you log in through Facebook there you’ll notice with no effort your friends all get imported as friends on Digg.  Now, every new friend that logs into Digg via those means also gets added, automatically, as a friend on the site. Digg has brought Facebook back to their own brand.

Soon you’ll start to see the same for microblogging. Whether it happens via Facebook, or via open source platforms such as or WordPress, brands will begin to bring ways for you to bring short-form conversations to their sites as well, enabling you to post out to Twitter, Facebook, and others and bring those conversations back into the site. This is the way it all started, and now we’re able to merge the old marketing and new marketing into a more complete solution that brings the brand back into the equation.

There are many tools available now, and many being developed right now that are bringing that “sea of fish” back onto your own property.  Tools like Facebook Connect are teaching you how to fish in that backyard pond so you can feed a multitude.  Now you can swim with the best of them in your own swimming pool!

Why Do I See So Many Open Source Advocates Using Twitter?

opensource_logo.pngAs I am speaking, Utah is having their yearly Open Source conference. If you’re in Utah or outside Utah (most of my audience is outside Utah), it is well worth the trip with some great topics from ssh tips and tricks to WordPress Performance and Scalability by Utah’s own Joseph Scott from Automattic. I would be there myself but I have deadlines I have to meet this week (I have a big announcement to make next week which will explain my lack of time this week). However, as I was tracking the updates from the conference, I noticed there seem to be way more people updating from Twitter vs. the Open Source-based blogging tool, In fact, I notice many Open Source proponents even outside Utah embracing Twitter over the Open Source-based and I wonder why.

Now, I wasn’t paying attention during OSCON so I don’t know if it was the same there, but I’m willing to bet there was a lot of activity going on within the Twitter network there that really should have been happening over on I’m wondering if it’s just lack of education about, or if our views of the principles behind Open Source have changed.

I remember a day where in each company I worked for I would do all I could to try and get them to let me run Linux on my desktop. I still run vim and I still run open tools like Apache, MySQL, and Perl. In some (remember Red Hat 5?), I was making a sacrifice by doing so, because I knew I had complete flexibility to make the changes and configurations necessary to make it do what I wanted to do if it did not yet do it.

When I was an Engineer at we thrived on this principle. It actually made us more productive as a company because when we used Open Source software, we could configure it the way we wanted when it wasn’t working the way we wanted it to as a company. This would have costed us hundreds of thousands of dollars in custom software changes if we used a shrink-wrapped solution. Not only that but we could give back to a great cause if it didn’t meet our needs, and in fact we gave back quite a few changes to the Open Source community because of this principle.

Now, if you are not one of those types that went out of your way to use open source software for the principle, and because of the reasons I mention above, then I’m not talking to you here. However, I’m calling each and every one of the Open Source advocates out that are on Twitter and have not yet tried, nor use on a regular basis. This is no different than running Linux on your desktop as in the examples I mentioned above. If is not working the way you want it to, as an Open Source Advocate and promoter, you have a responsibility to jump in and contribute the areas you don’t have access to. That’s the true spirit of Open Source, plain and simple! Here are the reasons why you can feel good using, or build your own instance that can communicate with

  • You own the content you post – All posts through a instance are published under the Creative Commons license, meaning the publisher cannot own the content of its users. This is very much in the spirit of Open Source.
  • is based on open source software – as already mentioned, is based on the source code. You can even set up your own instance and have it talk to other instances. If you don’t like what does, then fix it, publish your own instance, or give back to!
  • talks with an Open Protocol, OpenMicroBlogging Protocol – Not only are you given source that talks this protocol, but you can write your own software that talks this protocol, and it will communicate with any other software that speaks this protocol. See my post on OpenMicroBlogger for an example of this in action. This is called “Federation”, and IMO it’s the essence of Open Standards and communication.
  • has almost all the same features as Twitter, and more – as I’ll explain in a minute, this probably doesn’t matter, but the only features it lacks are direct messaging and SMS. SMS is expensive, and most likely won’t last on even Twitter – it costs too much! Direct messaging can be resolved by means such as e-mail or text messaging in a much cleaner fashion, although there are rumors of some working on even that. What it has that Twitter doesn’t though, and this is powerful, is that all instances support XMPP out of the box, which means live-streamed updates straight from users, in real-time. Not only that, but you can track those updates, as well as any update on any instance via Track functionality. Also, via OMB protocol above, you can subscribe to users on other services other than, and vice versa.

Let’s not get me wrong here – I’m not telling you to abandon your network on Twitter. I’m saying if you support and promote Open Source standards and refuse to use an open service like that is based on Open standards, you are living a double standard. You can still use Twitter in the meantime. I still use Windows and Mac for functionality I don’t get on Linux until me or someone else is able to replace that functionality for something better. The concepts are the same. I still use Twitter occasionally.

Also, many are giving the excuse of, “my network is bigger on Twitter”. I’d first like to point you to my listening/follower ratio article on as to how strong your network really is on Twitter, but in addition to that, let’s pull in the Linux example again. How many Linux desktops are there in the wild? How many Windows desktops are there? We use Open Source because it allows us to configure it to do what we need it to do, and often we can get the job done better because of that. We don’t care if the majority of the population is using another closed tool because we can do much more with the open tools we’re a part of.

I’d really like to see some more Open Source proponents using as their primary posting platform. If you would still like to use Twitter that’s fine – there’s a bridge to enable you to do that, but it’s time we stood to our principles and why we’re using Open Source in the first place. Please don’t consider this a criticism, but rather a Bearhug to come help us out in this cause.

You can find me on at

Fire Signal Server – The Inspiration Behind

logo.pngMy good friend, Scott Lemon, made me aware of an interesting project underway that appears to possibly have been the inspiration behind, the open source software behind the service, The project is called “Fire Signal“, and is the brain child of Ron Whitman, the developer behind the Twitter Traffic alerts site, Commuter Feed.

Fire Signal appears to be a set of standards set out to encourage micro-blogging platform developers to build their systems in an open, distributed way. states that they are building off of which is based on the “Open Microblogging Protocol“. Zenji Open Projects (Ron Whitman’s set of open standards) calls this protocol, “Fire Signal”. According to the Zenji Open Projects wiki,

“Fire Signal is an open protocol designed to allow users to publish and send short public and private messages of 160 characters or less across distributed web-based networks of Fire Signal Servers, the second initiative of this project. The concept behind this is commonly known by the term “micro-blogging”, popularized primarily by the web service Twitter and a growing number of competitors. “

650px-FireSignal_Overview.pngAccording to the diagram presented on the same page, the concept looks amazingly like the concepts behind, with multiple content servers all sharing data between each other. I see no links to code on the project (it seems to be a standard only, similar to the micro blogging protocol references), and Ron Whitman seems to be the only contributor, but the site does claim that is a working example of Fire Signal Server. It’s interesting that the website and openmicroblogging website make no mention of Fire Signal Server, nor does

It’s hard to tell if this was the origin of or not, or if several ideas all began at once, and ended up having the majority of efforts focused towards the project, but if it is the inspiration, Ron Whitman deserves a lot more credit for his contribution now that seems to be taking off by storm. If not, this does seem like an excellent new project to help out with – I hope the two projects could work together. I’m interested to find out more about the origins of this and how it relates to – this concept is truly the future of micro-blogging!

You can find me on at, or follow all my updates throughout the web and discuss on

UPDATE: Per Evan Prodromou, founder of, and the project, the two projects are indeed separate. Hopefully Ron Whitman can take his great ideas and contribute with the cause now. It’s nice to see lots of great minds wanting such a standard!