Open and closed, Part III—Microblogging redux

Not terribly long ago, I said some extremely positive things about Identi.ca, a new microblogging service running on open-source software. At the time, I indicated I'd be making it my main microblog:

I'm moving to Identi.ca as my main status blog, and I'm asking my friends, family, and anyone who reads this to join me over there. At the very least, register an account there and get your preferred username while it's still relatively new and uncrowded. I'll still be posting my sutff at Twitter, Plurk, Jaiku, etc. through the miracle of Ping.fm, but I'll be hanging out at Identi.ca

Sounded good at the time. Turns out, though, I let my enthusiasm get ahead of my common sense. While I still think Identi.ca points the way to where this type of service needs to go, I'm making Jaikumy home base for now. When all is said and done, Identi.ca is still very much in beta, and has a way to go before it's mature enough to rely on.

What happened? Well, yesterday they rolled out SMS posting (that's text messaging, to use the common term). Something happened, and Identi.ca's servers decided they didn't want to deliver the SMS messages I sent to the email address I was given (they're using an email address instead of a phone number or shortcode). This resulted in dozens of multiple error messages being sent to my phone, over and over again. All day. And all night. And well into today, for good measure.

This, coupled with a hiccup with the servers at Ping.fm, who also decided to send me multiple SMS failure messages, meant I got inundated with unwanted incoming text messages. This is exactly the sort of problem that one has to expect when rolling out a new service, but unfortunately it's also the sort of problem that can cost the recipient real money if it pushes him over the limit of what his mobile provider's calling plan allows. I'm still not sure why Identi.ca kept sending me messages—it was down almost all morning, and Evan, the developer, said only that it was "a terrible bug", but Ping.fm blamed it on my mobile provider, Verizon Wireless. Or maybe it was my phone. Yeah, that's it…

Gee, thanks. I'll just ring up Verizon and LG straightaway and get them to totally revamp their software architecture so I can post what I had for lunch on a website in beta. No problem.

Since I needed to make the ringing stop, I totally disabled my Ping.fm account, deleted my SMS information on Identi.ca once it came back online, adjusted my Verizon Wireless settings to reject practically all SMS messages, and spent the day with Twitter and Jaiku. And you know what? I had no problems. Both have US shortcodes, so I could post from my phone with no hassles. And Jaiku has a particularly appealing and well-thought-out interface (to my eye, anyway). I'd forgotten how much I liked it.

So, for the time being, here's the deal: if I'm in front of a computer, I'll crosspost through Hellotxt.com. Otherwise, I'm sending SMS direct to Jaiku and Twitter. I really encourage you to post at Jaiku, since it's the only one that never gives me a problem, but I can't force anyone to do it, so I'll check in at Twitter from time to time. But if you want to join Jaiku, let me know. I've still got some invitations, and it'll be a great place to track me when I go on vacation in a few days. Ironically, it's the polar opposite of Identi.ca; it runs proprietary software and is owned by Google, so I've gone from completely open to as closed as you can get.

And Identi.ca? A great idea. I'm keeping my account (despite an earlier post), but I'm just a bit leery of relying on it. As it stands now, as a single provider, it's just as liable as Twitter to have scaling issues; the magic happens when other sites running the Laconica software crop up, and interoperability happens. We'll get there eventually, but we're not there yet. Meanwhile, Twitter has the community, and Jaiku has the aesthetics and feature set. Say what you will about the small-town atmosphere of Identi.ca, sometimes it's nice to have big-city conveniences.

Update (2008-07-23): After about 24 hours of no SMS fail messages from Identi.ca, I unblocked my SMS service with Verizon. A few minutes later, they started coming in again…so I re-blocked most SMS messages. I wonder how long it will take for this storm to pass?