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On Growing Your Own Twitter

I’ve been thinking about this a bit lately: growing your own Twitter clone that gives a private circle of people access to both the crowd and the single user via desktop and mobile device. Other people are just looking at the possibility of growing clone services that aren’t reliant on Twitter’s groaning infrastructure. A surprisingly useful post on Techcrunch lays the problem and the possibilities out:

The key weakness in Twitter (and therefore opportunity for a new decentralized approach) is the fact that so much Twitter activity occurs off Users are getting very used to using desktop clients (Twitterific, Alert Thingy, Twhirl, etc.), IM, SMS, and other interfaces to talk to Twitter. Those third party applications can be tuned to lock in to the new decentralized Twitter-like service instead or in addition to Twitter itself.

There also look to be possibly useful bits in the comments section.

Published in researchmaterial


  1. Alfonso El Sabio Alfonso El Sabio

    Warren, have you been following the work of Dave Winer? ( …he wrote Radio and is one of the founders of the whole concept of blogging … right now, he is promoting the decentralization of Twitter … do check it out.



  2. fat_jesus fat_jesus

    Odd that this would be up as today I was thinking about just the same thing. Occurred to me that good old fashioned mailing lists could manage everything that myspace/twitter do… could they not?

  3. Warren Ellis Warren Ellis

    I’m well aware of Winer, of course. He seems more interested in getting his data out of Twitter (or, frankly, breaking it by adding payloads) than a full “Private Twitterm=,” as it were.

  4. Warren Ellis Warren Ellis

    First off, MySpace and Twitter aren’t the same thing, so don’t conflate them. Secondly, the “killer app” of Twitter, as far as I’m concerned, is the SMS end. That’s the important bit. If it doesn’t seamlessly extend to your basic mobile phone and doesn’t have a push end (ON A BASIC MOBILE DEVICE), it’s not Twitter.

    Don’t forget that Twitter allows two levels of function. If I follow xx number of people on Twitter via or a desktop app like Twhirl, I can also follow subset x of that group and have them go to my mobile device as well. So, while I keep an eye on forty people via the desktop app, when I’m out and about I only have a setset of closer friends going to my handheld. That is more important than people give it credit for.

  5. Chris Chris

    Frustratingly, I think you’ll see the mobile phone’s technology raise so that you can just push and go on a “basic mobile device” before the twitter decentralisation occurs. But then again, maybe that’s just me being cynical.

  6. Having just discovered Twitter about 30 days ago, I would love nothing more than a private label, encrypted version WITH payload capacity (per Mr. Winer). Being able to stream audio/video or to include attachments to a private Twitter-like network is a powerful concept.

    Today I was doing research on BrightKite, so if you roll the geo element into your mobile app – that would be a monster.


  7. Martin Donnelly Martin Donnelly

    I spent a lot of the last year developing a site that would allow you to send one message to many people via SMS. This was a UK based system and I think we were being charged about 7p per recipient. I’ve always wondered how Twitter manages to send messages and have no visible income, unless AdBlock is working too well and the site is covered in adverts.

    It is very much possible to build this microtwitter clone, but it would need some financing unless the number that a user used to send updates via was a premium rate number.

  8. as soon as, say, Google releases a free (as in dollars) Internet -> SMS Gateway this is doable

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