Evan Prodromou, one of the better citizens of the wiki community and founder of WikiTravel, launched Identi.ca today. Its a Twitter clone that is also distributed as Open Source licensed software. I've been playing with it in semi-private beta. From the FAQ:
The goal here is autonomy -- you deserve the right to manage your own on-line presence. If you don't like how Identi.ca works, you can take your data and the source code and set up your own server (or move your account to another one).
Ultimately, this means federation. I put a customized version of the foundation software (called Laconi.ca) on my server, you put one to your liking on yours, we both get friends on our local copy and any other versions around the web - and everyone can communicate with each other just like we were using the same service from the same provider. Whoever comes up with the best alternative to the garbled name Identi.ca wins!
That's something that many people have wanted to do for a long time.
Can it work, work it scale? At least it's open source so the development community doesn't have to play armchair quarterback for a black box like they are with Twitter. Maybe these little puppies can get tied into Gnip, the social media switchboard service we wrote about yesterday. Especially once Twitter integration happens, we expect to see Identi.ca become an important part of our work day here at RWW.
I wonder what role this could play if Twitter goes down and a community emerges to help scale this. Or how open source contributions bend it in different directions. Should be fun to watch.