Last August, on Stay N' Alive, I wrote about a lesser-known open source microblogging tool called OpenMicroblogger. OpenMicroblogger has shown steady growth since my post, and I really think it could be a strong alternative to Laconi.ca in the terms of OpenSource, self-hosted Microblogging solutions.
In just one month (August), in raw-traffic alone, it appears, according to Compete.com, that Laconi.ca has taken a sharp drop of almost 50% of their traffic (from near 30k visitors down to near 15k). At the same time, OpenMicroblogger.org, the location to download the OpenMicroblogger code, has seen a sharp increase, from near 0 visitors, to near 2,000 in just a month. While these numbers aren't huge, they show that OpenMicroblogger is quickly becoming a strong alternative, and justly so, to Laconi.ca. According to them, OpenMicroblogger has had near 1,000 downloads in just August alone, with little to no press or exposure.
Compete.com shows Laconi.ca's big drop in traffic month over month.
The working example of the OpenMicroblogger code-base, OpenMicroblogger.com (emphasis on the ".com"), has also shown impressive results in just the one month since launch. Identi.ca has seen an even sharper decline in traffic according to compete.com, losing near 53% of it's traffic, from over 140 thousand visitors down to just over 60 thousand visitors in just the last month. Twit Army, the Leo Laporte founded, laconi.ca-backed implementation, has remained quite steady, but saw a very slight increase since the last month. Leo's site went from near 40,000 to near 50,000 in the last month. Since it only recently started, that too is impressive, but it will be interesting to see if Leo can keep the momentum going. While not near the Identi.ca or Twit Army numbers (yet), OpenMicroblogger.com has gone from near 0 users to almost 2,500 users in just a month, and doesn't seem to be losing momentum - browing the public timeline shows steady, current, and regular use of the service. The recently announced Yammer, a closed, yet internal solution for organizations, has not published any statistics - I see these OpenSource alternatives as a serious competitor against the Laconi.ca and OpenMicroblogger code-base.
OpenMicroblogger as a Platform
The code for OpenMicroblogger is completely Open Source, and supports the OpenMicroblogging (OMB - Emphasis on the "ing") protocol, meaning the software can actually communicate with other OMB-supported software such as Laconi.ca (the software that powers the Twitter-competitor, Identi.ca). This basically means you can subscribe to anyone on an OMB-supported site such as Identi.ca or Twit Army (both Laconi.ca instances), while at the same time users from those sites can subscribe to you as a user of OpenMicroblogger - the horizontal structure of such a large network of "mini-microblogging networks" can be profound. Twitter does not support this, nor does FriendFeed, or even Facebook (but there's nothing stopping them).
Identi.ca similarly has dropped since its initial spike.
What's unique about OpenMicroblogger however is that it hits a mainstream audience of developers that would be implementing the software a little better than Laconi.ca. The code behind OpenMicroblogger understands much of the Wordpress API for plugins and themes, so many Wordpress developers can easily extend the software with little more knowledge than they already have about Wordpress development. In fact, OpenMicroblogger.com, the official working instance of the code runs on the Automattic-written Prologue theme with little to no enhancements.
OpenMicroblogger.com Working Instance
Brian Hendrickson, the developer behind OpenMicroblogger, as mentioned earlier has actually provided a working instance of the OpenMicroblogger code at OpenMicroblogger.com. As I mentioned, it shows continual, current usage, and even has some very interesting features that Identi.ca and even Twitter don't provide. Beyond simple Microblogging capabilities and OMB support, it appears you can also provide links, upload photos, and most impressive, provide tags with your posts. Each Tagged entry gets added in a list of posted tags on the right of OpenMicroblogger.com with the number of posts under that tag allowing you to see the most popular topics and categories of the time.
I have talked before about the power of having meta-tagging with Microblogging services such as Twitter or Identi.ca. Instead of poluting your existing 140 characters with hashtags, you should be able to post them via your client of choice alongside the message so they can easily be categorized. OpenMicroblogger.com actually seems to be the first service to provide this. The only additionaly thing they could add is ability to tag actual users within a post and it would hit what I was talking about exactly.
While still in its infancy having only been around for a month or two, it appears that OpenMicroblogger is becoming a serious contender in the OpenMicroblogging space. Having talked to their developer and knowing a bit about the future of OpenMicroblogger (which I will disclose later when some new features are launched), there is even much more to come. I'll look forward to trying to use the service, and look forward to other organizations trying to implement this innovative software.
Read more by Jesse Stay at Stay N' Alive.