Friday, August 21, 2009

Twitterfail: Nambu (and other twitter clients) trap social connections data

My previous entry I talked about some problems with Nambu. Twitterfail: twitter.com website, alternative clients, Nambu crashing At the end of that I came to a core problem with Nambu and other social networking applications. They entrap you into using their app by trapping the social connections data you've entered into that application.

In my case I'd spent a fair amount of time with Nambu with the accounts I'm following, dividing them into groups and in all making it into a useful tool. But due to bugs in Nambu the data file got corrupted or something and Nambu stopped working (it would only crash) and the cure was to delete the old data files and start over from scratch.

There are several problems with this picture ..

What if I want to switch between applications? e.g. the guy(s) behind Nambu might fall off a cliff or something and the Nambu Corporation wither into dust. As the Buddha says nothing is permanent and there's a zillion reasons I might in the future switch to a different application or even a completely separate set of services. Making it impossible to take my data with me creates a big barrier to switching between applications.

Let me ask - whose data is it? It's your list of social connections, it's your audience list, etc. It was your work that created the grouping of twitter accounts. What right does Nambu have to prevent you from using that data for other purposes?

Nambu, by using a proprietary binary data format is preventing Nambu users from reusing their data. There's a saying in the DIY community that you don't own it unless you can take it apart and change it. That's the problem with Nambu's use of a proprietary binary data format, it prevents you from taking apart your data and changing it. Nambu is interfering with your ownership rights over your data.

There's a vaguely similar issue going around the twittersphere right now.. The Twitter API's do allow you to retrieve all sorts of your data from your twitter accounts. However the Twitter API's have a limit of allowing only the most recent 3,500 tweets to be retrieved. Hence if you have made more than 3,500 tweets you cannot retrieve those tweets.

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