What do you do when one homestead on the frontier range gets more leaky than you can bear? You pick up and move to another one. We'll discuss one particular alternative to Twitter below, but more important is the matter of data portability.
Vendors need to make the resources we compile with them easily exportable, and allow import from other services, or else there's a frightening disincentive to invest much in any service in particular. Because it might end up going down all the time.
For those of you ready to spend some time in a different forum, we'd like to invite you to join us in the brand new RWW room over at FriendFeed. Rooms are like groups and they were just introduced at FriendFeed. Ours is a place we can discuss any number of things and an easy way for RWW friends and family to share links with each other and RWW authors. Thanks to Thomas Hawk for reserving the room for us.
How FriendFeed Works
FriendFeed is a great way to share not just messages, but all your activity across diverse social platforms. The way I explain it is this: It's the people online that I'm most interested in following and I like the way FriendFeed lets me see friends' activities on other networks that I don't participate in. I don't do Netflix, but I like knowing what my friends are renting. I don't do Pownce orStumbleUpon, but I like knowing what my friends do there. It all comes into FriendFeed.
Where You Can Find Us
If you'd like to join in the conversation at FriendFeed with ReadWriteWeb authors, here's our room again and below are our individual account pages you can add as friends if you'd like.
If other RWW folks are on FriendFeed and I've missed you (I'm looking at you, Josh Catone) go ahead and edit this post to add yourself.
It's Not Just About Twitter and Friend Feed
Startup web apps break, all the time. People complain about Twitter going down all the time, and it's maddening, but we test new apps all day long and can tell you that they all break far more often than you'd like if you use them regularly enough. FriendFeed in particular has been pretty good so far. You can't depend on any of these edge cases though; we use what works, when it works, we enjoy the new functionality that small startups are able to offer and then some of them win, get big and often stop innovating.
Last night we wrote about why it's in vendors' best interests to support data portability. That discussion was mostly in terms of big vendors like Facebook and Google. Small vendors like Twitter and Friendfeed and countless other, smaller startups would also benefit hugely from being able to promise users that data compiled in their service could be easily taken back home to another service if the user so chooses. That's the kind of insurance that will allow users to give a new service a fair and meaningful trial. Right now all these startups are largely a series of black holes
If you're a Windows user you can try out Engtech's Twitter to FriendFeed friend importer. Otherwise, loss of all our data appears to be the risk we take in the wild west of web 2.0.