Open Source Twitter rivals to be a success?

Josh Chandler · August 11, 2008 · Short URL:

Do and Jisko have the open source answer to Twitter's problems?

With the constant stream of Twitter "rivals" moving into the Web 2.0 space, it seems odd that companies such as or want to rival Twitter in an "open source" fashion. I would be really interested to see just how transparent they make this system with its open source features. Of course, if Twitter had gotten its act together on things I am sure we would have seen a open source Twitter come along.

A Techcrunch article called's open source platform, as a way of "distributing the load" of the service to other servers. Evan Prodromou, developer at, also made the point that Twitter would have also improved uptime and scalibility if it had been "decentralized." Many people wrote about this concept of a decentralized Twitter. My favorite is the post by Andrew Baron of Rocketboom. He even suggested that people should start using the microblogging service Tumblr to help spread the load of conversations.

One commenter on the blog post said "cross-posting to Facebook/Jaiku/etc. is pretty much distributed micro-blogging." I am constantly frustrated with this idea that people would spread the conversation to Facebook. Its appeal as a social network is far greater than its conversational aspect.

I would much rather throw a sheep at someone, than to discuss something with them. The only benefit of reaching out to Facebook is the increased traffic. But of course many of you will know Facebook has its own "status updates" facility built in. So this idea of updating Facebook via Twitter is completely redundant.

But how does open source hold up in a microblogging world, some reckons that social media microblogging will only mature when open source microblogging gains more popularity. In some respects does the Twitter API count as someway to be "open source", many applications such as Twhirl, Twitterfic, Friendfeed uses the API, but just how much further is Twitter willing to push the boat out, will it go as far as open source?

With and opening up the open source platforms to new levels, I think we will see Twitter maybe extend it's API into open source form, but maybe just maybe they will need to address the matter of uptime first:

(Note: Republished to feature on VatorNews homepage)

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What is Twitter?

Twitter is an online information network that allows anyone with an account to post 140 character messages, called tweets. It is free to sign up. Users then follow other accounts which they are interested in, and view the tweets of everyone they follow in their "timeline." Most Twitter accounts are public, where one does not need to approve a request to follow, or need to follow back. This makes Twitter a powerful "one to many" broadcast platform where individuals, companies or organizations can reach millions of followers with a single message. Twitter is accessible from, our mobile website, SMS, our mobile apps for iPhone, Android, Blackberry, our iPad application, or 3rd party clients built by outside developers using our API. Twitter accounts can also be private, where the owner must approve follower requests. 

Where did the idea for Twitter come from?

Twitter started as an internal project within the podcasting company Odeo. Jack Dorsey, and engineer, had long been interested in status updates. Jack developed the idea, along with Biz Stone, and the first prototype was built in two weeks in March 2006 and launched publicly in August of 2006. The service grew popular very quickly and it soon made sense for Twitter to move outside of Odea. In May 2007, Twitter Inc was founded.

How is Twitter built?

Our engineering team works with a web application framework called Ruby on Rails. We all work on Apple computers except for testing purposes. 

We built Twitter using Ruby on Rails because it allows us to work quickly and easily--our team likes to deploy features and changes multiple times per day. Rails provides skeleton code frameworks so we don't have to re-invent the wheel every time we want to add something simple like a sign in form or a picture upload feature.

How do you make money from Twitter?

There are a few ways that Twitter makes money. We have licensing deals in place with Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft's Bing to give them access to the "firehose" - a stream of tweets so that they can more easily incorporate those tweets into their search results.

In Summer 2010, we launched our Promoted Tweets product. Promoted Tweets are a special kind of tweet which appear at the top of search results within, if a company has bid on that keyword. Unlike search results in search engines, Promoted Tweets are normal tweets from a business, so they are as interactive as any other tweet - you can @reply, favorite or retweet a Promoted Tweet. 

At the same time, we launched Promoted Trends, where companies can place a trend (clearly marked Promoted) within Twitter's Trending Topics. These are especially effective for upcoming launches, like a movie or album release.

Lastly, we started a Twitter account called @earlybird where we partner with other companies to provide users with a special, short-term deal. For example, we partnered with Virgin America for a special day of fares on that were only accessible through the link in the @earlybird tweet.


What's next for Twitter?

We continue to focus on building a product that provides value for users. 

We're building Twitter, Inc into a successful, revenue-generating company that attracts world-class talent with an inspiring culture and attitude towards doing business.

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