Monthly Archives: July 2008


The Fail Whale Fan Club

This gallery contains 7 photos.

Sick of Twitter going down all the time? Sick of the sight of this annoying Fail Whale error message? (Image by daysies – CC-by-nc-nd) Well, I’ve got more Fail Whale than you can poke a harpoon at today! 🙂 Irritating … Continue reading

Laconica and – the open source alternatives to Twitter

(Image by camera obscuraCC-by-nc)

I’m a big believer in open source philosophies, free software and decentralised systems, so I want to do my bit to give a plug for Laconica – a microblogging system that offers an open source, distributed alternative to Twitter.

So, what is Laconica?

According to the article, Twitter for the enterprise:

Laconica is an open source microblogging platform—a network service software that allows participants to post short messages on a Web page, which then can be read by peers and other interested parties. The messages can also be sent out to instant messaging clients, to cell-phones as a short message service (SMS)-based dispatch, and to other conduits.

Laconica is different from Twitter for several reasons. One is that it is available as a stand-alone software platform available without cost under an open source license.

So anyone can setup a Laconica server. There is a growing list of Laconica servers here – Currently the most popular service is My account there is

Twitter is often down due to scaling problems, and they have reduced the number of features to reduce the load. For example, they removed the useful “With Others” tab that allowed you to view someone else’s conversation with their friends. With anyone being able set up their own Laconica server many of these load-related problems should be avoided.

Laconica also can offer federated messaging: Two different installations of Laconica can be linked so that a message on one service can be relayed to users of the other service.

It’s this federated messaging that really excites me. It means I can follow someone on any Laconica service, not just the one I’m registered with. This is pretty cool. Laconica is a truly distributed microblogging service.

Laconica also supports OpenID, the single log-on identity service, which is another plus.

See a full list of current and upcoming features here –

Content on Laconica is Creative Commons licensed

This is the only thing about Laconica I don’t feel 100% comfortable about – when you sign up for you agree to license your contributions under the Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution license.

Don’t get me wrong, I support the idea of producing work under Creative Commons licenses, it’s just that I would rather have choice over which license I apply to my content, like I do at flickr.

Besides, even though my microblogging may not produce any great works of art, I prefer to put a by-nc-sa license on my content because I don’t want to see it being restricted for commercial use and potentially sold back to me.

Private microblogging networks

Being able to host your own Laconica server means that you can create your own private microblogging network. As the Twitter for the enterprise article points out, this could have some important uses in business:

Deploying Laconica within an enterprise can help employees from different parts of the organization share information, Prodromou said. The software can partition off different user groups for collaboration, or have users communicate with the world—or organization—at large. Organizations can also set up conduits to personnel at other organizations running their own microblogging services.

Laconica in an educational setting

Being able to set up your own server also means it may have some uses in an educational setting. As a general rule I support web services being on the open web, but there are some instances in educational settings where private services are appropriate, such as with younger students, or vulnerable students, or other areas where Duty of Care is an issue. I’m a realist, so I also accept that sometimes private networks can provide a stepping stone for institutions that are just too nervous to let their students use tools on the open web.

A Laconica network could be a great way to provide a peer learning support network. As SMS support is improved (it only works with some networks at the moment) a Laconica network could also potentially be used to broadcast information to students.

Supporting the distributed microbloggerverse

I hope more people jump on board with Laconica and and help create a distributed microbloggerverse. As an open source project the more people who get involved the faster it will improve.

If nothing else, even if Laconica doesn’t replace Twitter, or become anywhere as big as Twitter, it should at least keep them their toes knowing that they have an open source competitor.

So I think it’s worth checking out at least. And besides, if this really is Lawrence Lessig on (thanks gnuchris), then all the really cool people will be there. 🙂

By the way – if you use FriendFeed it’s now possible to follow updates over there.

Quick Links for 2008-07-28

Image by sridgway

(Image by sridgwayCC-by)

From time to time I’m going to post a bunch of links to news items that I find interesting, want to draw attention to and make some brief commentary on, but that don’t warrant a post of their own, and that I don’t necessarily want to post to for later reference.

Welcome to my inaugural “Quick Links.”


TechCrunch – Is This The Future Of Search?

Google is testing a Digg-like interface for search, where users can vote search results up or down and add comments. The human element is added to Google’s magical secret search algorithm.


TechCrunch – Google Walks Away From Digg Deal

Google had been in negotiations to acquire Digg, but the deal fell through.

As I read about the negotiations I couldn’t help but think about that famous Epic 2015 video in which Google merges with Amazon to become Googlezon, takes over the online world and develops a “social recommendation engine.”

Oh well, at least Google have their own social search engine experiment from the previous item to fall back on.


MySpace support bolsters OpenID, but the logins won’t be portable

Popular social networking site MySpace said Tuesday it will join the open source authentication platform OpenID, further bolstering the idea of a unified system to carry online identities between Web sites. But for now, MySpace’s OpenID accounts cannot be used elsewhere.

So the good news is… one of the largest web services is supporting OpenID, joining Google, Yahoo!, AOL and other big players, but the bad news is…

However, the implementation of OpenID on MySpace is still incomplete.

The social networking site is what is called a “provider,” which means the site can create new OpenIDs. But to actually use that OpenID login created on MySpace on another OpenID-supported site, MySpace needs to become a “relying party.”

Apparently Yahoo! is only a provider too, at this stage.

I didn’t know that about OpenID… you learn something everyday. Hopefully MySpace and Yahoo! will come on board and become relying party and make OpenID really useful.


New Foundation Wants to Bridge the Gaps Between Open Web Tools

Speaking at the OSCON Open Source Convention, Six Apart’s David Recordon recently announced the Open Web Foundation, a meta-standards organization dedicated to smoothing the way for large businesses to embrace open web standards like OAuth, OpenID and more.

While there is already the Data Portability Workgroup, which acts as an open standards evangelist, the new Open Web Foundation aims to do the behind-the-scenes dirty work. The goal is to ensure that the various standards, like OAuth and OpenID have consistency, a legal framework and communication between them.

Sounds like a great idea… I wonder if they will be covering open standards for the metaverse.


IBM says traditional e-mail, phones and desktops will go away

I agree with IBM that 3D immersive environments are going to play a big role in work place communication.

IBM foresees the demise of e-mail, phones and desktops as unified communications makes it possible to replace them with laptops and other mobile devices.

Instant messaging will step up as the preferred means of written communication around which other communications modes – voice, video, conferencing – will revolve, he predicts.

Rhodin demonstrated a virtual conference using technology similar to Second Life that creates a conference space that becomes familiar and in which participants feel comfortable. In combination with other unified communications features, this can make for more productive conferences, he says.

Toward that end, IBM announced at VoiceCon that it is teaming with Forterra Systems to integrate Lotus Sametime with Forterra’s graphical collaboration software. The goal is to create a virtual environment in which groups can meet to run through simulations of physical events and draw on relevant experts as needed.


ABC launches free net TV service

THE ABC’s voracious and highly successful push into the digital domain has taken another mighty leap with the launch of ABC iView.

The free internet TV service, which went live last night and is available at, is the first real attempt by an Australian network to deliver comprehensive content online.

So our very own Aunty (as the ABC is affectionately called here in Australia) is making as many of its TV shows available for online streaming as possible.

Surely this is the future of television.

Unlike the BBC’s iPlayer, the ABC’s iView does not consolidate the public broadcaster’s television content with its radio content; but like iPlayer, the in-built video player is geo-blocked, or unable to be accessed internationally.

Disappointing, but I guess they have their reasons.

ISP provider iiNet also announced last night it would include the ABC’s new iView service quota-free for all customers.

Woot! Guess who’s with iiNet?

I don’t see Bananas with Pyjamas up there yet. 🙂

levelHead – augmented reality 3D spatial memory game

A video of levelHead – a very cool augmented reality 3D spatial memory game from Julian Oliver using the same type of square marker pattern augmented reality system I’ve posted about before.

The game is to be released on the 30th of July, 2008 under the GPLv3 license and is all done with open source software, including Blender and the ARToolkit.

More info here:

via: selectparks – levelHead v1.0 first footage (speedrun/spoiler!)

links for 2008-07-24

Glogster – faces of Edupunk

At some stage I intend to post my thoughts on Edupunk, but for now I wanted to point to cool new Web 2.0 tool I’ve discovered called Glogster by embedding this Glogster done by ccosmato/chaz maloney featuring some of his “poster-children” (yuk yuk) for Edupunk.

faces of Edupunk | Glogster

Ok… well I did want to embed the Glogster, but of course won’t allow embedding, so you will have to settle for a lame screenshot instead and click through to the actual Glogster to see it in all its multimedia goodness (which sort of defeats the point!).

Glogster lets you create multimedia posters with embedded text, graphics, photos, videos and music. It’s sort of a multimedia scrapbooking application.

My only gripe is that I’d like to see the ability to hyperlink. It’s odd to be able to roll over an item and have them react but not be able to click on them… that’s what I’ve come to expect on the web.

Glogster has all the usual social software feature such as profiles, friends, tagging, commenting etc.

What I love about Glogster is the Post Modern bricolage-y way elements are combined into a non-linear presentation, allowing for the viewer to bring their own meaning and interpretation to the collection of sources and the relationship between them.

Oh well… the Glogster would have looked good embedded in the post. Hmm… time to organise that self-hosted blog, I think.

Perhaps someone would like to embed this glogster (or any glogster of your choice) in their blog so I can actually see what it’s supposed to look like!

Coincidentally, in today’s OLDaily Stephen Downes points to a summary he took of a talk given by Jason OhlerBeyond Essays: Web 2.1 and the World of the Multimedia Collage – at the Desire2Learn Fusion 2008 conference.

I checked out Ohler’s website and came across this:

Beyond Words – New media literacy, fluency and assessment in education

Literacy means being able to consume and produce the media forms of the day. The default media form has shifted from the essay to the multimedia collage.

Appropriate, no?

This looks like a great resource on using digital media literacies and storytelling in learning. I’ll have to read it when I get a chance! I think there might be something in this storytelling business for me.

Update – 25/07/08:
Hyperlinks on the original Glogster are working now when you roll over areas that have the pink marker circle pop-up, which is exactly what I was expecting. They didn’t work for me before, so maybe ccosmato/chaz/Charley just hadn’t added or activated them. Interestingly, the title and Angrybeth’s avatar pic jumps out of the page when rolled over at the embedded version on OLDaily, but not on the original Glogster site. Weird, although all of this weirdness may be due to the behaviour of Flash on Ubuntu.

Update – 27/07/08: In response to Alicen’s comment I posted the Glogster over at my Blogger test blog (why didn’t I think of that before?!) – Glogster – faces of Edupunk.