While there are many similarities to Twitter, our new service has much to differentiate it from that ubiquitous micro-blogging site.
It seems that Twitter has been popping up all over. Newspapers, local and national TV news programs, celebrities, and probably even your dorky brother-in-law are evangelizing for Twitter.
Why would anyone want to spend time reading and writing these brief status updates? Is there value in trivial communique?
The value of a micro-blogging service is found in who you follow, and in who follows you. It is the network that has intrinsic worth. The relationships are what matter. Micro-blogging is just another means by which we foster communities and open up channels of communication between people who share common interests.
I’ve found Twitter to be a great way to discover content that I might have missed. I use Twitter to share interesting links, and to beam my brief thoughts on any subject to a crowd of followers. I use Twitter to gripe about products and services that don’t meet my expectations, (which often prompts a personal reply to my complaint, direct from the CEO of the company I’d just maligned). Gotta love it.
But Twitter is not the only micro-blogging service. There are open-source projects that replicate the best features of Twitter, while adding functionality that Twitter cannot match. One such tool is Laconi.ca, which we’ve used to create this exciting new service for Florida’s progressive community.
FlaProgressives.com is intended to serve as a gathering place for a diverse group of folk who are interested in moving Florida’s politics in a more progressive direction. Like Twitter, you can subscribe to updates from other members of the site. Unlike Twitter, you can have remote subscriptions to users on any OpenMicroBlogging site. Like Twitter, You can use HashTags to add metadata to your updates. Unlike Twitter, you can subscribe to groups and send notices to groups.
Okay, I’ve sold you on the idea. How do you get started?
First, visit FlaProgressives.com (If you are using a mobile browser, you should automatically see the mobile version of the site.)
Click the Register link.
Choose a nickname and password. The nickname can’t contain punctuation or capital letters, just lowercase.
Fill in the info for email, homepage etc.
Check the option “My text and files are available under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 except this private data: password, email address, IM address, and phone number.” (This is so others can share, amplify, and blog about what you have to say, as long as they give you credit.)
Click the Register button at the bottom of the registration page and you are good to go.
Once you are registered, you can setup your profile, avatar and other account settings.
Set up SMS alerts to your cellphone, if desired.
The Instant Messenger functionality and the FaceBook app aren’t yet enabled, for technical reasons. I’ll be working on implementing these in the future.
Read the help documentation, if you need more info.
If you’re a power user and have experience using Twhirl with your Twitter account, you can use that desktop application to interface with FlaProgressives.com. (In accounts select laconica and enter firstname.lastname@example.org The Twhirl blog has more detailed info on setting up the application for a Laconi.ca server, like ours.) If you prefer using TweetDeck, you’ll have to wait for a future release for them to support Laconi.ca installations.