Friday, 22 January 2010

identi.ca: use it or lose it

identi.ca is, on the surface, just another micro blogging site that has already seemed to have lost the battle, along with all the others, to twitter. When it launched on July the first 2008, it was plugged widely by a lot of people, mainly in the Linux community. However it was only, in reality, at a testing stage and the actual release should have been delayed. A lot of user initially signed up but after a few too many bugs in the system left for greener pastures.

But after several improvements and a much more stable product, users are a bit slow to come back. However identi.ca has several major points going for it that should see it sticking around for a while yet.

It is an open source piece of software. Unlike twitter, identi.ca's code is completely open and free to the whole community to modify and manipulate as they see fit. Yeah so what? I'm not a programmer, I can hear some of you say, well true enough you may not be able to change the coding yourself but that is why bug reports and forums are so popular today. Coders are able to listen to the users so that alterations can be made and then tested before a stable release, this process is a lot quicker than trying to contact a large company, who usually sub let these programming tasks to other companies.

Secondly, because it is relatively small in comparison to twitter, a lot of companies do not have much of a presence on the site, except maybe a token group which never gets posted on. But this is also to identi.ca's advantage, this means that there is far less spam posts. I had the (dis)pleasure of a twitter account for a short month of my life, on average I received twenty posts a day without being a member of any groups: car insurance, loans, anything but actual communication from a human micro-blogger. This is very similar to the windows/Linux arguement about viruses: I'm not naive enough to believe that they can't exist in Linux, there just aren't enough users to make it worth their while.

Thirdly there is a real sense of community in identi.ca that really appeals to a Linux minded user. Not all the talk is geek chat, however you can ask almost any technical question and the users are more than happy to try and help. You feel like you are part of it, not simply using a piece of software, but a major part of a friendly community.

I know it is not for everyone, but what gets me annoyed is when I hear Linux users slag off identi.ca and then proudly claim they use the better and more polished twitter. I have listened to a couple of Linux podcasts lately where identi.ca has been the target of some slagging whilst at the same time hearing several mentions to the podcasts twitter group. We have a great open source based program, a fairly close community (which at the end of the day is what Linux is all about) and we don't have the annoyances of spam. If the Linux community in general does not support identi.ca, it's target audience, then it will be a thing of the past and we'll be forced to look elsewhere. Spread the word, tell a friend, it's amazing how many Linux users still have not heard of or used identi.ca. Micro blogging has a place in modern society, lets keep identi.ca an active player.

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