Yesterday Greg Grossmeier posted a link to the Twitter Independence Github repository. It’s written in the style of another famous redress of grievances (a document made famous by my fourth grade teacher, assigning it to be transcribed should we aggrieve her during class). Unlike the more famous document, the Twitter Independence is not a declaration of independence, rather it’s a set of demands for Twitter to set back their API to the way things were before Twitter changed it to one more suitable to an audience participation model, and not a developer participation model.
Perhaps these developers need to read what the definition of independence really means.
Twitter is making it quite clear they want to control everything about their ecosystem. They have an audience to protect, and that audience couldn’t care less about API access. The hubris of developers in thinking they can change Twitter’s mind with some github petition is ludicrous: you are no longer their target audience. In order to truly be independent, developers (myself included) need to make a break from Twitter and align ourselves with technologies that don’t require ourselves to be beholden as digital sharecroppers to some corporate entity.
Services like identi.ca and App.net exist because of a desire for more freedom on the part of developers (identi.ca exists because of concerns over source freedom and federation, and App.net exists to provide API freedom). What they don’t have, though, is Twitter’s access to an audience. A constant refrain from those using these services is “how do I get my Twitter friends to start using this (obviously superior in every single way) service”. Unfortunately users are not developers, so discussions over API freedom, or source code freedom fall flat, while the main concern rings through: “how do communicate with people on Twitter”. The biggest asset in this whole discussion is Twitter’s audience. After a particularly poignant discussion on This Week In Google, I posted to Jeff Jarvis and Leo Laporte: “Screaming at This Week In Google because Status net handles all their complaints about Twitter /cc
@leolaporte @jeffjarvis“. Jeff responded “Yes, but users?” And that’s the kicker. Performance without an audience is masturbation, and conversations without an audience is a crazy person talking to themselves. The Twitter Independence is asking to have access to Twitter’s audience under their terms. And Twitter has made it abundantly clear they aren’t willing to accept that.
Until we are willing to create new audiences on different networks our complaints are moot. Either grab your digital ploughs, or unshackle yourselves. The time for reconciliation is long past.