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The real meaning - and power - of (a.k.a. open source Twitter)

At what point do we simply give up on Twitter?

At what point do we finally call a spade a spade and just give up on Twitter?

This morning the Twhirl client I use started acting really flaky. Tweets wouldn't post... or they would post but then would lock up Twhirl. Sure enough, the folks at Seesmic/Twhirl used their new ability to send out status updates to give us this:


I tried sending an update, but I have no way to find out if it got there because Twitter's main page currently has the wonderful "fail whale":


There's been no end of commentary in the blogosphere on Twitter's instability in recent days... a quick Techmeme search will show some of the flow of articles, in particular Dave Winer's "State of the Twitter" and Michael Arrington's TechCrunch post about the conversation moving to FriendFeed.

The question remains... how much longer will we all put up with Twitter's downtime?

It's almost like a digital version of "crack"... we keep returning to feed our addiction to the conversation. Surely it will get better now, we think. They must have fixed it after this update. With all that investment money, they must be able to fix this, right?

Why don't we go to FriendFeed? Or Plurk? Or, heck, even Facebook with it's status messages? Some people definitely have moved... but most of us remain. Why?

I don't have a solid answer. A blogger named Corvida outlined many of the issues in her post "The Problem With Leaving Twitter". It is all about the community... about the many people you connect with who have, in many cases, become actual "friends".

I think it's also about the APIs... for all of its faults, Twitter stands above so many others with the many different ways you can send updates to it... via the API from a ton of different clients... from the web interface... from the mobile interface... from IM (if they ever fix the IM interface)... via voice from Jott or Twitterfone... from your blog site... from other services. The absolute simplicity of the Twitter API has created a whole ecosystem of integration around the service.

It's also where - at this moment - much of the "conversation" is among the emerging tech / new media / chasers-of-bright-shiny-objects. It's our virtual water cooler. It's our "Cheers"... it's where we hang out.

How much of that conversation will remain, though, is a good question. Each day Twitter seems to try our patience a bit more. At some point we may all reach that pain threshold where we finally say "enough is enough" and move on to somewhere else...

When do we hit that point? I don't know, exactly, but it's increasingly seeming like the answer is... SOON!

P.S. You are welcome, of course, to follow me on Twitter when the service is up... as well as on Friendfeed for when it isn't. :-)

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