Automattic has released Prologue, a Twitter style service for groups that is also being pitched as a distributed Twitter.
According to Automattic’s founder Matt Mullenweg, the new service is way for users to share short messages with a corporate structure, or with private messaging between different groups. Mullenweg says that although it’s not initially aimed at becoming a distributed Twitter, they are offering the template on an open source basis and that if people want to hack it for this purpose, “you’re welcome to.”
The concept of a distributed Twitter has been discussed in certain circles for the better part of the last year. The concept is to decentralize a short message service, therefore overcoming the constant issues Twitter has with service provision, or in simple terms, many people host the service across many servers, and they all talk to one and other.
Allen Stern at Centernetworks says that “With WordPress the dominant player in blogging, this could be a game changer.” Nah. It’s a reasonable enough idea, but the key to Twitter’s success has been three fold. One is its sheer volume of users that has seen it defeat competitors such as Jaiku by providing the most active and rich user base. Secondly although the centralized service is a weakness, it’s also a strength because when you connect to others on Twitter, you connect to others on Twitter. No working out whether the server they’re on is up-to-date, live or even compatible, it just works (when it’s not down, or “temporarily overloaded”). Third is the open access to Twitter via third party tools; just ask Leah Culver from Pownce (who’s not one of my fans) about why open access is vital in building something like this. Prologue may provide some open access, but its distributed nature will mean that ultimately it will be a niche product; possibly a good niche product, but it’s not going to knock the Twitter bird off its perch any time soon.