The twitter apps swirl

Just another rant, really, another wakeup call to take ownership of your own content. It’s fine to share it all in the cloud, I use Gmail and Google Calendar, and Twitter, but I also mirror any important content elsewhere.

With the announcements Twitter, and their acquisition of atebits, the developer who wrote Tweetie, the web is buzzing away at how twitter is destroying app developers, etc. It was a little sad to read about how many millions had been invested in one-off twitter-centric products. With the difficulty companies have in getting funding from VC’s, there’s the other side, where the simplest business rules, like building a product dependent on a platform that can make you irrelevant with a wave of it’s hand, aren’t more strongly considered (or the investment is so small, the investors are just rolling the dice for an acquisition).

So, here are two simple rules for app vendors/investors…

1. Don’t base an entire business (or your one product) on a single companies service/platform (unless that single company is YOU!). Find a way, from the beginning, to support multiple platforms
2. Don’t plan on a platform company to acquire you as your “exit strategy”

If twitter clients had thought of themselves as “blogging clients that support twitter”, they might have been more proactive about mirroring microblog content, they could have some ways to add value not supported by the twitter platform, rather than being the tail to twitter’s dog. Twitter should have been one of several backends. Instead, clients like Tweetie removed when building Tweetie2. While this worked out for Tweetie, it didn’t work out for its users who wanted to mirror their own content.

And a suggested rule for everyone else…

1. Don’t put everything you create, be it a microblog of you ate for breakfast, or your photos, or your blog entries solely onto someone elses platform. They could, at any time, change their policies, get acquired, or go out of business.

I’d been advocating using for a long time, as a free and open source twitter/microblog mirror. Yes, all of your contacts are on twitter, but twitter owns your tweets, they exist because you create their content. If all the app vendors had supported services like and so that people could mirror all their content to multiple places, they (and we) wouldn’t be (as) dependent on twitter/facebook to do the right thing.

So, in the vein of “you might be a redneck”, I’ll give you some “you might be over dependent on others” thoughts…

– All your email is hosted by gmail
– All your calendaring is hosted by Google Calendar
– All your personal/business documents are hosted by Google Docs
– All your photos are posted on Facebook
– Any of your content is duplicated on Facebook (they then have rights to it, you know)
– All your microblogging (if you think it has value) is only on twitter
– All your shared links are shortened by, etc.

In other posts here, you’ll see I run my own URL shortener now, since I didn’t want to make rich by doing something trivial for me to do myself, where I could then own my own statistics. That might be a bit radical, and if all of your content is temporary and you don’t think of any value, it’s certainly overboard. I also keep all my posts I think have any value on my own websites, and share links to them. That’s mostly so I don’t have to worry about a third party service going away, and taking my content with it. It’s really inexpensive, and not really that much harder than setting up a account. And, even with that, I mail myself backups daily, just in case my hosting provider for some reason goes away without warning. Again, if the content is valuable to you, you have to take ownership of it yourself.