Twitter's performance problems over the past few months have made people skittish about basing businesses, even ideas, on it. The problem isn't just performance problems, however. When one company controls what many come to consider a key piece of infrastructure (who'd have thought they'd read that about Twitter 18 months ago), it creates a brittle situation. What if they can't perform or go out of business?
Enter Identi.ca, a Twitter-like site that's based on open source software called laconi.ca. The key problem with something like Identi.ca is that if it's just another centralized solution, nothing's changed.
Laconi.ca has the ability to federate different servers so that if I have an account on Identi.ca and you have an account on whojusttweeted.com, I can follow you and you can follow me. Until today, I've understood that in theory, but not in practice.
Jay Ridgeway has put together a short instruction page on how to federate two accounts on different Laconi.ca servers. There are seven, count'em, seven steps. That's a little more involved that most people will put up with, but, as Jay says, it's a start.
It really isn't any more involved than subscribing to an RSS feed and over the years we've discovered ways to make that less painful. Still, I'd argue that part of the lag in uptake of RSS by most people is this complicated subscription process.
I think subscriptions are a great answer to complicated syndication problems--whether it be RSS, tweets, or whatever, but we've failed to make that pattern so precise that systems take the pain out of subscriptions for users.
I think I'll set up a Laconi.ca server and play with this a little. There's something here, I think.