It’s Time for an Open Twitter (a 501c3)

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Anti-Competitive

I like Twitter. I’ve been trying to build a business on Twitter’s platform for the past 3 years. However, their most recent announcement of new rules and regulations has stunned me.

Twitter has the power to topple regimes, but by following advertising dollars they are building a walled garden and making anti-competative decisions. It does not bode well for our world that such a commercially driven company should wield so much power and be the epicenter of global conversation.

Non-Profit

In the same way Wikipedia is a non-profit democratization of knowledge, we need a non-profit democratization of global real-time-messaging.

Dalton Caldwell has an interesting idea, but I don’t think it will end the Twitter monopoly due to being pay-to-play. For example, I doubt app.net will bring free-for-all freedom-of-speech to the third world.

In my opinion, the best scenario would be for a new uncensored non-profit organization to offer a free, global, robust, API for real-time-messaging.

sky.net

For the sake of this article, let’s call this new service, sky.net and assume it has millions of dollars of donations to keep it running (think Wikipedia).

sky.net could quickly win a huge amount of users due to the overwhelming power of geeks and influencers talking about it, blogging about it, building awesome software clients, and letting everyone know that sky.net was the best option for a free global chat stream.

The market segmentation could look much like Android and iOS. Especially because sky.net would be free to use, with no developer restrictions, a new global chat-stream, free/paid apps available on all devices. No restrictions.

Monopoly

The sad fact is that right now Twitter has the right, and the power, to shape global conversation and change our world. Unfortunately their commercial interests are not truly aligned with the responsibility they are entrusted. We need an impartial non-profit company to take Twitter’s place and become the true real-time-messaging backbone of the internet.

The current situation, with Twitter owning real-time-messaging is like saying ATT owns email, or Facebook owns the internet.

Let’s be clear, Twitter created a free ubiquitous protocol for all to use, and then they withdrew access to it and claimed it for themselves. In other words, they created a single protocol and invited the open market to create multi-variant clients to use it (just like email, or http).

How can one commercial company be allowed to own a protocol such as http or email? Furthermore, Twitter’s new terms and conditions have made some astonishing demands and rules that seem to show the true color of the companies leadership. For example they forbid intermingling between Twitter and other social networks on the same screen.

Geeks Have The Power

If we, as geeks, could build awesome apps and use our influence to promote and get a critical mass into sky.net, it could be a defining moment for the internet when free-speech and anti-walled garden ideals won-out.

Interestingly, Twitter’s own greedy move of limiting 3rd party clients to a maximum of 100,000 users ensures that existing (and new) client developers would make every effort to move to a system like sky.net.

Funding

After reaching critical mass (of say 100m users) it would be easy for sky.net to maintain donations and funding. After all, if an API developer was making millions of profit (think Hootsuite, Datasift) they would have a very high motivation to regularly donate to sky.net to ensure its upkeep. However, they would not be unable to alter the non-profit manifesto of sky.net. Philanthropists may also consider donating to sky.net in the name of unbiased and open free speech. It’s also worth mentioning that with new open source scaling technology, sky.net might be comparatively inexpensive to run.

Ecosystem & Investment

If sky.net really existed it would be a more secure option for any company or investor that is doing business with Twitter today. The sky.net manifesto would be rock solid and would ensure that an unbiased free market prevailed. It would also ensure that API capabilities would not be pulled from under any responsible developers feet. The investment surge that happened during early Twitter days could be free to be re-sparked due to renewed investors confidence in an unwavering unbiased platform.

sky.net would have no obligation other than to make a great API for other vendors to capitalize on, and it would not cost users or developers anything.

 

Posted by on August 18, 2012 in Musings