Sometime this afternoon the Revolution ground to a halt when Twitter/IdentiSpy mastermind Dustin Sallings left town for a conference and his server shut down. “I was somewhere outside of civilization between Southern California and Las Vegas when one of the machines that ran identispy went down.” acknowledged Sallings, whose resurrected Track services have given what may be a false sense of hope to fans of the disruptive Twitteresque technology and its fledgling host Identi.ca network.
In recent days, Identi.ca has buzzed with the excitement of real time conversations as developers swarmed into the new network. Sallings, who first leveraged Summize (now Twitter Search) to provide a slower version of Track over XMPP, was drawn to Identi.ca and its wide-open XMPP data stream as well as a user base willing to trade Twitter’s larger cloud for a more focused and activist-oriented conversation.
Sallings has been very visible on the network, taking suggestions and openly discussing ideas for how to improve the service. The fact that Identica has not yet implemented direct messages has contributed to the transparency, in marked contrast to Twitter’s Kremlinesque dribbling out of information. Recent IdentiSpy additions include a first cut at “write” access to identi.ca and an Atom (RSS) feed.
“The atom feed answers the ‘how do I get my tracks while I’m offline’ question,” says Sallings. “Google Reader automatically builds a permanent, searchable archive of all of the things that match my tracks.” Write access allows users to use a single IM window (Gmail Gchat in my case) to track keywords and respond to those messages, as well as talk across services to Twitter and other similar services. Both Sallings and Identi.ca developer Evan Prodromou have been surprisingly successful at growing their cooperating services, but today’s outage and an ongoing problem with Identi.ca’s XMPP write access are signs of trouble.
“It’s just a matter of enabling other endpoints. Mostly all that’s been happening since last Saturday has been design work,” Sallings reassures. “It’s together pretty well in my head, but I haven’t had a chance to write any out. I’d probably be better off moving the services to somewhere more stable before opening them up to a broader and potentially more interactive audience.” Dangerous times ahead.