My good friend, Scott Lemon, made me aware of an interesting project underway that appears to possibly have been the inspiration behind Laconi.ca, the open source software behind the service, Identi.ca. The project is called “Fire Signal“, and is the brain child of Ron Whitman, the developer behind the Twitter Traffic alerts site, Commuter Feed.
Fire Signal appears to be a set of standards set out to encourage micro-blogging platform developers to build their systems in an open, distributed way. Identi.ca states that they are building off of Laconi.ca which is based on the “Open Microblogging Protocol“. Zenji Open Projects (Ron Whitman’s set of open standards) calls this protocol, “Fire Signal”. According to the Zenji Open Projects wiki,
“Fire Signal is an open protocol designed to allow users to publish and send short public and private messages of 160 characters or less across distributed web-based networks of Fire Signal Servers, the second initiative of this project. The concept behind this is commonly known by the term “micro-blogging”, popularized primarily by the web service Twitter and a growing number of competitors. “
According to the diagram presented on the same page, the concept looks amazingly like the concepts behind laconi.ca, with multiple content servers all sharing data between each other. I see no links to code on the project (it seems to be a standard only, similar to the micro blogging protocol identi.ca references), and Ron Whitman seems to be the only contributor, but the site does claim that laconi.ca is a working example of Fire Signal Server. It’s interesting that the laconi.ca website and openmicroblogging website make no mention of Fire Signal Server, nor does identi.ca.
It’s hard to tell if this was the origin of Laconi.ca or not, or if several ideas all began at once, and ended up having the majority of efforts focused towards the laconi.ca project, but if it is the inspiration, Ron Whitman deserves a lot more credit for his contribution now that identi.ca seems to be taking off by storm. If not, this does seem like an excellent new project to help out with – I hope the two projects could work together. I’m interested to find out more about the origins of this and how it relates to laconi.ca – this concept is truly the future of micro-blogging!
UPDATE: Per Evan Prodromou, founder of identi.ca, and the Laconi.ca project, the two projects are indeed separate. Hopefully Ron Whitman can take his great ideas and contribute with the Laconi.ca cause now. It’s nice to see lots of great minds wanting such a standard!