So, I’m sure you’ve all been waiting with baited breath for me to begin my licensing series. I got lots of great feedback, but something’s made me put it off for a moment: coding. I plan on starting the series in earnest next week, but in its stead, I offer you this: rstat.us.

If you didn’t hear, a week ago Friday Twitter changed their terms of service. This 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.

rstat.us

To boil it down, rstat.us is a Sinatra application that clones the basic functionality of Twitter. Fine. But here’s the interesting part: if you want to follow someone that’s not on the main rstat.us site, you can copy/paste a URL into a form, and from then on out, it just transparently works. We’re building on the ostatus protocol that other sites like Identi.ca uses, so you can actually follow Identica users on rstat.us right now, and after we work out a kink or two, they can follow you, too.

Oh, and I should mention that: this is 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. We also want to significantly improve our test coverage.

There’s some pretty big plans for the future: we want to extract a Sinatra extension that will enable anyone to easily build their own distributed network. We’re also releasing three Ruby gems that will let anyone work with the few standards that we build upon, so that other people can make their own tools that work with us, or build their own implementations and copy of the site. Check it out on GitHub, or drop by #rstatus on Freenode if you’d like to say hello.

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. :)

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