Evan Prodromou’s new project identi.ca may look like just a twitter clone that signs you out if you don’t post anything for a few hours but don’t be fooled. It is in fact a giant leap forward for the freedom to use Internet-based software.
The code is AGPL, so even if someone tries to modify it to lock users’ data in to the modified version, the users have access to those modifications.
The system supports federated multiple hosts, so anyone can host an instance and any user can use any instance.
And the interface supports licencing posts under CC-BY, so that users are free to quote each other and the federated network is free to replicate their data.
I imagine some people will claim that these are not advantages to end users and that they will prevent service providers from making money. But the stability and scalability of such a service means better user satisfaction and less trouble scaling and providing reliable service for any company that provides the computing power for the service.
The fail whale shows that freedom in Web 2.0 matters to both customers and those who think they want to trap them.