Incensed by Twitter's latest terms and conditions that discourage developers from building apps, Steve Klabnik and others have launched rstat.us an open source microblogging service.
rstat.us, a Sinatra application that clones the basic functionality of Twitter, has been established as a direct response to the changes we reported in Twitter tells developers: stop building apps!.
Based on the OStatus protocol, it is an open source project built using Ruby, Sinatra and MongoDB and the code is available on Github.
Blogging on The Changelog Steve Klabnik explains:
Twitter's changed terms of service] got a lot of people upset, including me. My friends and I started thinking about it, and the real problem is this: any software that’s owned by one entity, corporate or not, is open to the possibility of being abused.
So we decided to fix it. Ten days later, here we are: http://rstat.us/ is born...
...very much an alpha release. rstat.us was put together by 6 or 8 of my closest friends in a marathon coding session, so there’s some refactoring work to be done. The documentation is also a bit obtuse, partially to slightly discourage people from running their own nodes just yet. Eventually, this should be a two or three line process, and you can be running your own node up on Heroku.
rstat.us is aiming for simplicity and openness:
Simplicity is a core 'feature' of rstat.us. We pride ourselves on saying 'no' to lots of features. Our interface is clean, and easy to understand. We give you just enough features to be interesting, but not enough to be complicated and confusing.
The comment on openness concludes:
This also means that you can own your data, we'll never stop you from having full access to everything you've put into rstat.us.
which must serves as a reminder of Twitter's recent sin against developers.
Steve Klabnik's blog post concludes:
It’s a distributed world that we live in. Own your own data. Build decentralized networks. Take control of your own social networking. And help us do it. :)
Could it take off and become a real alternative to Twitter?
Given the market share that Twitter has, and the fact that most Twitter users aren't likely to be motivated by the problems developers are having, the chances are slim to zero. However if one of the third-party client companies gets behind it and give it sufficient impetus then who knows?