How about creating a free, open and decentralised micro-blogging platform?

The versatility of micro-blogging is attractive, it can be used for delivering short messages about anything from news to personal status updates. Compared to blogs with long-form posts, you can easily consume a huge number of micro-blog posts.

In the years following Twitter’s popularising of micro-blogging, many people were compelled by the vision of micro-blogging as an infrastructure platform for innovation in realtime news distribution and social networking.

Way back when Twitter had an open API, including an RSS feed for every user, every developer could build apps that plugged directly into the various Twitter endpoints. The same were true for other micro-blogging services, such as Jaiku, Pownce, etc. Ideas blossomed and there were a steady stream of new ideas on how to use micro-blogging to innovate news syndication and deliver exciting new social networking experiences.

Even at an early stage of Twitter’s life — realising that Twitter eventually would need to generate an income — people could see the clouds forming: Twitter could close their platform at any time, and stop providing free and open access to tweet streams. This is exactly what happened.

Twitter did not move towards being an infrastructure platform, but towards being a tightly controlled news and entertainment platform, funded by advertising, and mostly meant for consumption and for brands to engage with consumers.

This eventual connotation of Twitter is far from the original open micro-blogging platform that the first users got to experience. Some of these users believed that the self funded service could revive the original Twitter experience, or become something even better. That turned out not to be a viable idea.

So, how about creating a free, open and decentralised micro-blogging platform?

Creating open social networks based on micro-blogging and instant-messaging have been tried, over and over again. Some attempts are more promising than others. Most of these attempts aim at replicating the functionality of Twitter/Tumblr/Facebook by using open protocols allowing for distributed social networking. The barrier to entry is often high: You should be willing, and have the ability, to run and maintain a server with the software. With the great diversification of open social network technologies, and the high barrier to entry, it’s not likely that there will ever be a “critical mass” adoption of such technology.

One alternative approach that I find appealing — though it is not yet widely adopted — is the IndieWebCamp POSSE principle of Publish (on your) Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere. Using this approach you own your content, and by syndicating it to closed silos like Twitter and Facebook, you can keep in touch with the people using these services. The barrier to entry is significantly reduced: You should be able to use standard blogging software like Wordpress. You can make it as involved as you like, from having a blog on a sub-domain of a free/cheap blog platform (such as,, or, to a more involved approach with a personal domain and self-hosting your blog.

The POSSE principle is unlike many other attempts at creating an open social network using micro-blogging: it can be implemented using simple and readily available free (or very cheap) blogging tools, and it doesn’t rely on the ability of a particular open social networking technology to attract developers to maintain the platform. Hence, with POSSE you can leverage well-known technology that is being actively maintained and developed.

Whatever way possible, I support a wider adoption of free, open and decentralised micro-blogging platforms. We need open micro-blogging to drive innovation on the Internet, to make better experiences for people to connect and communicate. We need it to provide a choice of not being subject to advertisement when we create and consume content on the Internet. We need it to allow anonymous free speech without censorship. We need it because freedom of choice is important.

To those who can’t imagine why we would need a free, open and decentralised micro-blogging platform: Maybe you’ll be inspired after watching the beautiful work presented in Jonathan Harris’ TED talk: The Web’s secret stories. Mind opening creative work like this would be near impossible to create with today’s closed social network silos, in particular if the creative work is not aligned with the commercial interests of these silos.