and Enabling Small Communities

Just two weeks ago, I asked the question Can Microblogging Power A Blog Community? This week, we found out that the answer is, people are trying it out. First, there was an announcement regarding the Today’sMama site and their use of for a local microblogging community. Jesse Stay helped with the creation of what looks like a powerful community plug-in for your blog.

Yesterday, we saw the announcement of will be launching in May. Granted, it is not a free service, but the ability to have a microblogging community created for your blog or website, without all of the pain of actually installing or hosting it is rather nice. This is a very big step toward local microblogging communities, especially if they have the features that the Today’s Mama site has. Given that is from the same people as there is a large amount of functionality built in.

This type of announcement is interesting by itself, but the devil is in the details.The Control Yourself announcement has a nice listing of the features:

All sites will be connected to IM using XMPP and to SMS using the SMS-to-email gateway built into the Identica software. At some point in time, “native” SMS will probably be incorporated and available for a fee.

So, no concerns of whether you will get information through IM, it is already there. The SMS gateway is also baked right in. The other major features like Groups and Tags are also available because they are contained within the normal installation. So, for very little money, you get a microblogging installation that is more powerful than Twitter itself, and you only need to click a few times to get it setup. This could be a nice revenue stream for them if they can support the amount of traffic this is likely to generate.

Two other points from the announcement need mentioning as well:

All sites will be connected using the OpenMicroBlogging protocol.

Control Yourself will work with third-party aggregators (directory, search, hash tags, etc.) to get data flowing from public sites into aggregation.

From the initial launch of this platform, the sites will be connected together for an initial version of federated microblogging. Thankfully, they are also planning to work with aggregators to get the data moving around the web as well.

I know this sounds like a gushing endorsement, and it basically is. This is a very exciting announcement that has not received a lot of publicity. With this hosting solution, there could be several niche-oriented microblogging communities. If this concept takes hold, there will be a wealth of targeted information that can be sifted through to determine real trends within smaller communities. Twitter and Facebook are good for trends in the large mass consumer market, but that is really only useful for major brands. Think of the type of information that a smaller brand can find if they target some communities within their niche. I have been on a data mining kick lately because of the openness of the larger sites, but this idea could make some very interesting data become readily available.

The customer service stories that we have seen on Twitter with @comcastcares and the Zappos team, could become more commonplace because of the targeted communities. The problems that many see with Twitter, like the globally public and scattered fragments of conversation, could be rectified with these small communities. has the potential to become the of the microblogging world, and that is a good thing for anyone interested in microblogging.

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