As some of you may know, I have no fondness whatsoever for proprietary platforms. The mere thought of joining a proprietary instant messaging network sends shivers down my spine : to me the freedom of a decentralized infrastructure is essential and that is why I am a Jabber user. So by now you surely already know what my opinion of Twitter is.

As B. Mann mentions in “Twitter is Jabbber”, XMPP provides Jabber with all the message routing functionnality needed. He adds that “it has a publish and subscribe architecture built in, rather than all these crazy desktop apps that constantly poll the Twitter mothership“.

On top of that, XMPP Extensions enable plenty of functionality to match and surpass Twitter‘s. For example, XEP-0108 “User Activity” defines “an extension mechanism for capturing “extended presence” data about user activities, above and beyond availability“. An XML snippet is worth a thousand words :

<activity xmlns=’’>
<text xml:lang=’en’>My daughter’s birthday!</text>

So let us see what makes Twitter so successful.

First we have mobility. Again B. Mann explains that “my only explanation for the Twitter craze is that North Americans are still enamored of anything that can do the tiniest bit of mobile integration. Yes, Twitter has managed to scale and spend many thousands of dollars paying for SMS gateways“. Sure there are Jabber SMS transports and they are usable from a phone, but you can’t beat free.

But I believe the reason for Twitter‘s success is web integration. Sure, Jabber notifications are provided by many collaborative tools, and there are ressources to make your own such as class.jabber.php, a Jabber library for PHP that I used to build Jabber presence indicator in a web page. But indeed they do not match the level of functionnality that Twitter provides out of the box. We need more web based Jabber clients – that is an interesting area that I’m quite tempted to delve into.

So the proprietary hydra has sprouted one more head, but our swords are far from dull and the jihad shall be eternal !