I almost let today go by without blogging about Open Discussion Day. Of course, lately, I haven’t been doing much blogging at all, which is entirely out of my person, but anyway, let’s get onto the festivities.
First, so you understand, Open Discussion Day started back 4 years ago when Ploum first blogged about showing support for open protocols, such as Jabber/XMPP (using Google Talk, jabber.org, and others). I’ve blogged about it in the past, even though I missed blogging about it last year.
You can start with by checking out the page http://www.opendiscussionday.org. There, you’ll find a wiki that has some information on how to get started with open communication platforms, protocols and software. Given the ways we communicate with each other on the Internet and elsewhere, it makes sense to advocate supporting these open platforms. Here’s a brief, non-exhaustive list of various open protocols worth checking out:
- Jabber/XMPP- Jabber/XMPP is probably the most successful open communication platform to date. According to Wikipedia, it has more than 50 million active users, mostly on the Google Talk/Gmail service. It’s supported on Windows, Mac and Linux. It’s a federated protocol, which means Jabber/XMPP can communicate across different domains. It uses SSL encryption by default, which means your communication is secure, and most of the clients are free, and solid applications.
- OMB- The Open MicroBlogging protocol was started in response to Twitter. Rather than being tied to a particular vendor for your status updates, Laconi.ca, now Status.net, launched and announced they would provide an open, federated, protocol for broadcasting your “tweets”, following others, and others following you. Identi.ca was their product, and it has proven to be very successful, and the open platform has sparked a number of other microblogging servers, all in tight communication. http://army.twit.tv, http://brainbird.net, and others are based on this code, and can all communicate together. Lastly, there are a number of microblogging applications that support Identi.ca, and the others. You can follow me at http://identi.ca/eightyeight.
- IRC- Internet Relay Chat is one of the older forms of open communication in this list, except for email. It uses TCP for the transport protocol, and optionally SSL/TLS for encrypting your communication. As with everything else is this list, IRC is federated, meaning connecting multiple IRC servers together, and communicating transparently. Freenode is probably one of the more common IRC servers for open source projects. OFTC, EFNet and UnderNet are popular as well. There are many IRC clients out there that can get you chatting on any number of different IRC networks at the same time. My personal favorite is Irssi, a text-based client.
- Email- The last, but definitely not least, however the oldest, and probably most ubiquitous. Everyone is familiar with email, and it’s rare to find people these days that don’t have an email address. It too is federated, meaning you can send an email from gmail.com to hotmail.com, without thinking about it. Many open protocols have been built around email, including SMTP, IMAP and POP, as well as their secure, encrypted versions. As much as the Internet would like to see email die, I personally think it will be around for quite some time. The only thing I would ask, is that people stop sending proprietary attachments to their message, bottom post, trim unnecessary cruft from the mail, and write in plain text (I think I might be reversing my stance on HTML email- we’ll see).
Of course, there are many closed discussion platforms and protocols, such as Twitter, Facebook, Skype and MSN/AIM/ICQ/Yahoo. It’s important to note that you don’t own your data on these services, unlike the ones I’ve mentioned above. You are subject to vendor lockin, and everyone else must use those services too, as they don’t communicate with each other. But, we’re about the open discussion protocols, not the closed ones, so let’s continue.
I’m sure there are many other open communication platforms that would be worthy discussing in this post. I chose what I feel to be the biggest and most successful of the open protocols. The future will tell what else we see in this arena, but right now all I can say, is we have a great deal of options for supporting an open protocol, many of which are doing very, very well. If you have other open communication protocols that you use, make sure you specify them in the comments, or add them to the Open Discussion Day wiki. For the record, I fully support all the open protocols/communication platforms, and you can find me on any of the protocols listed above.
Happy Open Discussion Day, 2010!