Open Source Microblogging and the Enterprise


One of the easy predictions for 2009 is that it will be the year that Twitter breaks through into the mainstream (for some suitable definition of mainstream.) The good news is that Twitter uses lots of open source and plans to use even more:

When we plan new engineering projects at Twitter, we measure our requirements against the capabilities of open source offerings, and prefer to use open source whenever it makes sense. By this approach, much of Twitter is now built on open source software.

In some cases, our requirements—in particular, the scalability requirements of our service—lead us to develop projects from the ground up.

We develop these projects with an eye toward open source, and are pleased to contribute our projects back to the open source community when there is a clear benefit. Below are two such projects, Kestrel and Cache-Money. Every tweet touches one or both of these key components of the Twitter architecture.

Nonetheless, there is an argument that we need a completely open source system, one that also makes its data available. fits the bill nicely here:

How is different from Twitter, Jaiku, Pownce, Plurk, others? is an Open Network Service. Our main goal is to provide a fair and transparent service that preserves users' autonomy. In particular, all the software used for is Free Software, and all the data is available under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license, making it Open Data.

The software also implements the OpenMicroBlogging protocol, meaning that you can have friends on other microblogging services that can receive your notices

The goal here is autonomy -- you deserve the right to manage your own on-line presence. If you don't like how works, you can take your data and the source code and set up your own server (or move your account to another one).

This ticks all the boxes – open source, open data and open standards. Moreover, recently received some handy VC dosh to help the platform grow. But Google's recent decision to open source its own microblogging platform Jaiku adds another possibility to the mix:

Google has long believed that thoughtful iteration is the best way to build useful products for our users. As part of that process, we are always looking for ways to better focus our teams on the products that can have the most impact.