pubsubhubbub – Stay N Alive

Twitter’s Gnip Deal Ensures a Closed Ecosystem

Today, at Defrag conference, Twitter announced a new deal with the Real-Time stream proxy Gnip, where for $360,000 per year they will search 50% of all content posted to Twitter.  This move follows the move, as I mentioned earlier, of Twitter moving further and further away from an open platform, and more towards one they fully control, which, as I’m sure is their opinion, will hopefully bring them more revenue in the future.  The problem with this move is that rather than open up the data of users on Twitter by embracing a real-time standard such as PubsubHubbub or RSS Cloud where middleware Proxies can filter the traffic coming through which anyone can set up, they’ve entirely blocked the potential for such by ensuring their revenue source instead comes from what should be open data.

This move is troubling.  This move means Twitter’s revenue is entirely reliant on them being a closed ecosystem.  The more they block data from the open web, the more they profit.  This sets a very bad precedence that could very well seep into other systems of theirs in the future.  In fact I bet it will.

Twitter has every right to protect their main firehose – they have pretty much done so already.  The Gnip deal seals that direction even further though, and builds Twitter’s entire business model around content that should be free in the first place.  To be “the pulse of the planet” you cannot be a toll road.

Twitter has made similar moves recently, with their move towards their own user interface that only “preferred partners” can interface with (meaning you have to pay to provide an interface to users on that might have an interest in your product), and also removing the obvious RSS feed links to users that are logged into Twitter that made it easier for users to retrieve and parse content of those they want to follow on the service.  This move also comes after Twitter reduced rate limits and removed capabilities for applications to do popular features on the site.

If one thing is obvious, it’s that Twitter wants more control over its ecosystem.  Unfortunately, control means a more closed environment.  Unfortunately, the deal with Gnip seals that closed environment in stone for some time to come.  I think we can pretty much count on Twitter being a closed, walled garden in the years to come.

I hope they prove me wrong.

UPDATE: Twitter did prove me wrong, sorta – read how here.

LazyFeed Becomes First Real-Time Web Aggregator for rssCloud

Lazyfeed LogoToday Lazyfeed announced they had officially launched rssCloud and Pub/sub Hubbub (PSHB) support into their real-time RSS aggregator, making them the first major aggregator for rssCloud outside of Dave Winer’s own River2 client, and the first client of its type for the Web (Dave Winer’s client is written for the desktop OS).  What does this mean? It means now you have a way to get the most relevant information you are looking for real-time, as it happens.

Lazyfeed is a new aggregation service that aims to provide real-time news updates on specific topics you want to know about.  You give it the keywords you’re interested in, and it comes back, as the news happens, with the news written about those keywords.  It goes further though and provides additional suggestions for other keywords you might be interested in as they happen, and you can add those to your list as well.  See Louis Gray’s demo here for a great view of how it works.

Now, with rssCloud and PSHB support for real-time news aggregation, they are now one of the most real-time aggregators on the web.  On their blog they mentioned some of the hurdles they had to jump to get through the implementation, and ironically, Feedburner seemed to have the biggest issues with set up (through PSHB) since the Atom protocol wasn’t built natively with any sort of real-time support. No problems were mentioned about rssCloud, showing promise for the protocol developed by Dave Winer. Lazyfeed seemed to think Feedburner wasn’t even real time, based on their experience, showing a delay of a few minutes on each feed published.

Problems aside, seeing aggregators like Lazyfeed implement these technologies is promising, showing we are on the cusp of the 2010 web and real-time news and updates being at our fingertips.  I’ve talked to several other companies also getting ready to embrace these technologies and I’m pretty sure by the end of 2010 it will be an entirely new web and opportunity for entrepreneurs and developers alike.

UPDATE: Brett Slakin, one of the originators of the PSHB protocol, has clarified some of the PSHB and Feedburner issues here: