NT3R

A blog that needs work

A brief note on Open and Closed Standards

It has not been a great spring, for web apps, at least, not for me. A number of services that I use will be discontinued, or changed in a way that is incompatible with the ways I operate. Of note, Google Reader, to be closed on July 1; and TweetDeck, which will be abandoning its mobile app on ... this month apparently.

Much has been said of Google Reader's demise, and why it happened, and how RSS is / is not dead, and that's well... that's something to think about, but I'm not concerned about that matter. I'm sure I'll find something that approximates it, eventually. That, or I can make something that does what I need it to do.

But not much has been said about TweetDeck, as far as I've read, and it is an entirely different problem to resolve.

I wouldn't exactly call myself a social media maven. Strike that, I would not refer to myself as a social media anything beyond a web guy who posts things sometimes. That aside, I'm a technical guy, and I'm picky about how I consume information. As low as the signal-to-noise ratio is around the people that I follow, social media like Facebook and Twitter ocassionally help me find interesting stories that I might otherwise have missed.

When I had read that TweetDeck is closing up shop, I knew it wouldn't be easy; I had gotten comfortable with it. However, I didn't expect it to be terribly difficult either.

The problem with TweetDeck is that it was developed during a period where there was a boom of twitter clients, probably because twitter wasn't as ubiquitous as it was, and Twitter didn't really care how content was consumed, so long as people were using Twitter. At the time, Twitter was merely a medium, it was just a channel for information.

However, Twitter eventually decided that it would need to be a platform to get anywhere, and as such, started locking things down: closing down Twitter clients, buying TweetDeck, and so on. If you wanted to use twitter, you would have to use TweetDeck, or their app, or one of their approved apps. This control that they took ensured that they could maintain a consistent identity, and control the user's experience (which was probably a good thing).

In doing this, though, they created a walled garden, like, say, Facebook. Alright, not as bad as Facebook, and maybe not entirdly a walled garden, but they moved towards a platform that you needed to be a part of to access. This had some other side-effects, such as LinkedIn discontinuing its Twitter integration, and the Adobe AIR / mobile versions being discontinued (though the latter really could just be a move to simplify engineering).

Google Reader, as great as it is, is just an RSS reader. As inconvenient as it will be to switch, I can switch to a different client because RSS is a free standard: anyone can publish an RSS feed, and the format is well known. It's just another channel, effectively. Twitter while open in the sense that its API is well known, and apps can be written for it, is not nearly as open. It is no longer a medium. Hence, the problem.

And, because of this problem, I'm stuck looking for an alternative to TweetDeck that really isn't there. Since Twitter (and likely, Facebook), have clamped down on their APIs, its hard to find a good client that works. Suggestions are welcome, of course.

Nicholas Terwoord

A self-titled software developer, "code archaeologist" (whatever that means), and professional geek. Spends too much of his time coming up with new projects, and not enough time working on them. Likes video games, board games, anime, manga, and Pathfinder / Dungeons and Dragons (GOTO: Line #1 - Geek).

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