I’m listening to the 8/2/2008 episode of the Gillmor Gang where Steve is talking with Dustin Sailings of Twitterspy. As they are talking about Twitter and Identi.ca and such, a realization hit me. Because I know nothing about how any of these microblogs are implemented this might be naive and redundant but let me throw it out there.
Microblogs absolutely need GUIDs. Particularly if we are talking about federating together identi.ca powered services that exchange messages, it is highly important that we be able to uniquely identify them. Since every microblog post originated somewhere, I believe this GUID should almost always be the URL of the individual message on the originating service.
For example, I make a tweet on Twitter. FriendFeed picks that up and aggregates that in my feed. That FriendFeed message should have a GUID that is the original Twitter URL. If I have a ping.fm or TwitterFeed or any other reposting type service running, they should all pass in the GUID as they do the push from Twitter to other services. If I post originally to Identi.ca and it pushes to Twitter, just reverse that notion. Then in cases like where your blog automatically posts messages to Twitter, the GUID should be the permalink of your blog post. This would enable easy deduplication. For example, now FriendFeed could see that the Twitter notification of the blog post is something it has already seen from the blog itself. It can only show a single occurrence, not the avalanche of duplicate messages we now see.
The same basic principle would hold with Flickr entries that get posted to Twitter or similar services. Use the Flickr page as the GUID so that it is easy to tell that the notification from Twitter, Plurk and FriendFeed are all the same thing so whatever interface you are using should show it only once. I think the benefits of this fall out very quickly. This seems like it would be simple to add in if it doesn’t already exist, simple to add to every bit of message flow and simple to use at all the user interface ends. If the idea is that in the future these services will be distributed and federated, this sort of thing should happen sooner rather than later.
So I haven’t a created an original tweet over on Twitter – one that wasn’t either housekeeping or a reply to someone else – in a month. That mode of interaction exists entirely on my Friend Feed account now. Any tweets that do happen are exhortations to get followers to move over to FriendFeed with me, or crossposted FF comments. I’m happy with that.
For a month of Steve Gillmor has been telling me that I was philosophically inconsistent for still having any Twitter in my life. He thinks I should hide it all on FriendFeed if I’m such a hardcore switcher. I’ve toyed with the idea but am not ready to pull that trigger. FriendFeed has a beautiful transition plan in place automatically so why not take advantage of that a little long. Now I heard on his show that Steve too has ceased to originate tweets, in his case choosing to use Identi.ca exclusively. If he’s getting fed up, then things are coming to a head. He’s been a die hard proponent for longer than is reasonable and a better friend to Twitter than it was to anyone else as it enters the fast part of the toilet bowl swirl. I’ve always wondered how much of this love of Twitter by Silicon Valley types even as it was sucking ass was for the service itself and how much is residual affection and loyalty for the founders? Odeo was winning awards for “best podcast startup” when all it had was a “under construction” page, so this dynamic of over-valuing their ventures is real.
Now, as if all the various unreliabilities weren’t enough, users are finding their accounts blocked for TOS violations and removed with no apparent cause. I’ve obviously been done with Twitter for a while, but this should be check and mate for everyone else. When the unreliability goes beyond website downtime, rollback of feature sets, intermittent unavailability of your account data into full fledged spurious lockouts from the account, it is time to bail. Twitter is like your drunk uncle, and now this is the 5th baseball practice in a row that he has failed to show up and give you a ride home. Are you going to trust it to be there when you need it? I don’t.
I’d suggest that everyone that still cares about the Twitter mode of interaction move to Identi.ca or FriendFeed (or both hooked together), leave a pointer in your Twitter account that you are moving over and shut out the lights. Enough is enough. I understand you once loved the service but if you continue to use it now you are entering the codependent enabling phase of the relationship. Don’t come crying to me when you get hurt. It doesn’t deserve your loyalty, so withdraw it. I’ll see you on the other side, as geniodiabolico at both FriendFeed and Identi.ca. Check and mate.