Last Sunday the 19th July 2020 I launched twtxt.net, a Decentralised, Self-Hosted, Twitter™-like microBlogging Platform.
You can read about my previous Announcing twtxt.net post.
Today however I want to share more about twtxt.net and the software behind it prologic/twtxt; Why I’ve done all this, Why it is important to me and Why you should care.
So before we go into the Why and How, let’s first of all talk about how we go here in the first place.
Back in ~2015 I got head hunted by Facebook™ and after turning them down twice (three was a bit much!) I accepted the offer and relocated my family to the Bay Area at the Menlo Park HQ ala Silicon Valley.
There I spent ~3.5yrs as a Production Engineer (Google it, or think DevOps/SRE if you’re unfamiliar, but not an apt description). Meanwhile, while I was trying to be good at my new found ay job, interesting developments were happening in the Social Media industry. Not only was Facebook copping flack for the Cambridge Analytics series of events, but Twitter™ was going through some changes as well…
Twitter (_allegedly, although I never really got into Twitter myself…)( was introducing new automated algorithms to change what users on their platform saw on their timeline. This has significant impact on usability of the original intended use of the platform. Naturally some users did not like this and sought out other avenues and solutinos.
One such avenue was bucket’s twtxt. As I understand it he created a very simple file format specification, a canonical client and unleashed this onto the world! 👏
This was all around ~2016. I was too busy at Facebook to notice :)
Present Day (2020)
Fast forward to ~2020 (20th July 2020 to be exact) and a few weeks earlier while I was on holidays I was up late one night just poking around on the Internet (as you do) and looking for “Decentralized Social Media” software. I found quite a few; here are some of the better known ones:
Some other not so well known ones:
This this very blog’s underlying platform Micro.blog where I now write and publish longer pieces like on my Blog
There’s even an article on Wired entitled Decentralised Social Networks Sound Great. Too Bad They’ll Never Work! Well I’m here to tell you I formally challenge this and am here to throw the gauntlet down! 🧤
By the way… I might have caught twtxt sooner back in ~2018 when I got back from the US, but I was also (at that time) too busy moving around, working and trying to get bak into our family home that was still being rented at the time.
twtxt.net – a new approach to social media
As I said I launched twtxt.net (the first of what I hope will be many instances) on Sunday the 19th July 2020. I wrote the software prologic/twtxt in just a few short weekends in my “spare time” and licensed it under the very permissive MIT license.
📕 If you haven’t already checked it out, created an account and played around. I would encourage you to do so! I run a freely available for anyone to use instance over at twtxt.net
If you are non-technical and read this far… Firstly congratulations I like you already! Second, don’t worry, twtxt.net is just a platform to voice/share your thoughts, wisdoms, rambling, short-form text or anything else you want. Think of it like a miniature Facebook or Twitter but without all the advertising or tracking.
I believe in this very simple analogy:
If you buy a diary and a Parker™ Pen. If you then write down your thoughts, wisdoms, experiences, rambling or whatever you want to and share this with others.
Who owns what you have written? The manufacturer of the paper? The manufacturer of the diary? The manufacturer of the pen?
So why? Why should I use twtxt.net?
You should use twtxt.net if you are the type of person that:
- Enjoys writing and sharing interesting things with others.
- Just have interesting things to say in general. Knowledge and Wisdom should be shared!
- Are tired of all the issues of all the BIG Social Media giants that now plague the f, g and t*.
- No longer wish to be the product of Facebook or Twitter and want to own your own posts and interactions.
See whilst twtxt.net is brand spanking new, there are a few principles that will always remain true even now and going forward:
- NO User behaviour tracking of any kind.
- NO Advertising anywhere of any kind.
- Absolutely must be capable of being self-hosted.
- Absolutely must allow users to take their data somewhere else and use another twtxt client
So how will you make any money?!
Good question! Glad you asked. I probably won’t! But one of my primary goals is for users to “Self Host”.
What does this mean?
Well it simply means that you run your own server instance of the software that is behind twtxt.net.
If you are a non-technical person (which would be true of most people as there are only about ~1M software developers in the world) then you’re probably asking yourself:
But how do I do this?! I don’t know anything about computers! I just use apps!
Well don’t worry. Even through (at the time of writing this) it’s really early days for twtxt.net there are plans for the following:
- A paid single-user instance of twtxt.net that is your very own, personalised to you, with your own domain name but with all the same features.
- A paid multi-user instance of twtxt.net with all the same features but more suitable to small communities, schools, villages, neighbourhoods, etc.
How much will this cost when it becomes available? Short answer is I don’t know. But I can tell you this, it will cost you less than what you are paying for Facebook and Twitter today (remember that even through the f, t, g* are all FREE, there is an implicit cost, which is to say that you are implicitly paying for it as you are their product!).
Let’s just say that once we’re ready to launch single-click hosted instances for the masses that it will cost you next to nothing. And if you can’t pay for your own instance, just use a friend’s instance or jump on any other instance you can find like twtxt.net!
So let’s talk about what twtxt.net can do for you today.
Today you can:
- Signup as a new user at https://twtxt.net/register
- Login at https://twtx.net/login
- Make your first post by entering some prose of wisdom in the text box and hitting Submit!
- You can follow other feeds by entering a Nickname for the feed and their URL in https://twtxt.net/follow
- You can discover other users on the same instance as you by going to https://twtxt.net/discover
- You can find interesting external feeds and even external users outside of the instance you’re on by going to https://twtxt.net/feeds
And most of all. You can have engaging, fun and interesting interactions with all sorts of people! twtxt.net (at the time of writing this) is growing at a rate of ~2-3K requests per day and 3-5 new user signups per day. WOW! 😱
Now there’s still loads more work to do and all of this is happening in “spare time”. No one is paying me or contributors to do any of this. We do this out of the love and kindness of our hearts 💚
Nevertheless progress will continue and here’s what we have planned already:
- a Native Mobile iPhone / iOS App! 🎉
@mentionswhere you can easily see who has mentioned you in a post (we call them
#hashtagsearching where you can see other similar posts that users tag.
- Always continuing to improve the UI/UX and overall user experience.
- Uploading images/photos! 📷 This will come pretty quickly actually because there is already a demand for this!
- Instance<->Instance interactions. Basically strengthening the first-class decentralised nature of twtxt.net. 👌
So twtxt.net is a FREE new type of Social Media that has a strong focus on Self-Hosting, Decentralisation without any of the bloat, tracking or advertising that we’ve all come to take for granted.
Join us today!
–James Mills / prologic