Why I use Identi.ca and you should too

Those of you following me on Twitter may have noticed that all of my tweets come from Identica. I started off with Twitter but I quickly switched over to Identica as soon as I learned about it. Identica, if you haven’t heard of it before, uses the same micro-blogging concept as Twitter (and in fact is compatible with it), but has several improvements. I recommend Identica, and if you aren’t using it yet, check out these reasons as to why you should.

There are several practical reasons you should use Identica:

  • All of your data is exportable on Identica, including your entire corpus of tweets. Twitter does not provide this functionality. Should you want to migrate away from Twitter down the road (for any variety of as-of-yet-unforseen reasons), you are unable to do so, but you are able to migrate away from Identica at any point easily. And since Identica uses the Free Software Laconica software, you can even install Laconica on your own web host and import all of your data there, where you can have complete control over it.
  • Identica has a powerful groups feature that allows people to collectively subscribe and see all tweets sent to a group (this is what the exclamation syntax you may have seen in tweets is about). Groups are a powerful way to build communities and have multi-party discussions, but Twitter does not have them.
  • You don’t have to quit Twitter. My Identica account is linked to my Twitter account, so every message that I send to Identica automatically appears on Twitter. Posting to Identica+Twitter takes the same amount of effort as posting to Twitter alone, except it is seen by more people.
  • Identica lets you see things from other people’s perspective. I’ll use me as an example. You can see my entire tweet stream, which includes messages from all users and groups I’m following. This should give you a great idea of the kinds of things I’m interested in. And you can see all of the replies to me, which makes it a lot easier to track and understand conversations. Note that all of this is public information and is accessible on Twitter through trickier ways (in the first case, looking at the list of a person’s followers and combining all their tweets in chronological order; in the second case, by searching for “@username” on the search subdomain), so you aren’t giving up any of your privacy. Identica simply makes these features a lot easier to use.
  • Some people you may end up finding and wanting to talk with don’t use Twitter at all; they’re only on Identica. Get on Identica and link it to Twitter and you can talk to everyone on both services. Just use Twitter, however, and you’re left out in the cold with regards to anyone who only uses Identica.

And there is one important ethical reason you should use Identica:

  • Identica is Free (as in freedom, not merely cost). Because it follows the Free software ethos, it respects your rights and maximizes your freedom to control your data as you see fit, including the ability to move all of your data elsewhere if necessary. Twitter does not respect these freedoms.

9 Responses to “Why I use Identi.ca and you should too”

  1. T2A` Says:

    Explain to me the point of Twitter. I don’t understand it, never have, and probably never will. It fits no niche on its own; many other applications do what it does better.

    If you’re friends with someone, you know what’s going on with them already.

    If you’re not friends with them you wouldn’t pay attention or care about their life in any other way, so why do so with Twitter?


  2. arensb Says:

    Phil Plait (the Bad Astronomer) has used Twitter to good effect recently, giving real-time updates when there was a risk that the International Space Station might be hit by a rock. If you’re interested in that kind of rather specialized news, it’s good. I’ll probably subscribe to some political Twitter feeds next election night.

    For interpersonal communication, on the other hand, I’m with you.

    You might also enjoy LoreSjöberg’s Alt Text column about Twitter.

  3. Cyde Weys Says:

    Twitter is good for real-time updates of any sort of event, really. I found it really useful at LibrePlanet over the weekend. Sunday had a 3-track conference layout, so for each talk I heard, I was missing two others. Luckily, some of the people in those other talks were tweeting the event to the !LibrePlanet group on Identica, so I was able to follow along with at least the main points.

    Regarding that Alt Text column, I hate what he hates about Twitter too. But people don’t seem to use it for “What mundane activity am I doing right now” anymore (or if they still do, I tend not to follow them). The service has evolved. For the most part, the things that people are saying are interesting.

  4. W. J. Bottomtooth Says:

    “Corpus of tweets.” You owe me a new keyboard, I just spat coffee all over it.

  5. Irina Says:

    “Some people you may end up finding and wanting to talk with don’t use Twitter at all; they’re only on Identica.”

    Yes, exactly. Also. free-as-in-freedom. And not at risk of being bought up by Google. I’m starting to forget to check my Twitter feed as well (need to look into a multifunctional client)– probably a good sign.

  6. Cara Swann Says:

    Just found your blog this morning, interesting. Thanks so much for the twit-like app info; I immediately switched to it. I only use Twitter for brief updates (from web) at my blog, not social networking/communication and think Identica will be perfect for that. Additionally, I like being able to move my data elsewhere unlike Twitter.

  7. Ivan Says:

    I like this article. I also decide to switch from Twitter to Identica reaching a broader audience. Now I am having a problem on transfer old twitter post to identica. I had been search on the net. I still could not find a way to do it. Do you know how to do it?

  8. ThoCos Says:

    Hi. I recently (today, in fact) discovered Identi.ca while exploring some of the features of Ubuntu 10.04.

    I normally use Windows XP but have been learning Ruby programming and it seems Linux is the preferred platform for Ruby and related stuff like Rails. So I’ve got VirtualBox running Ubuntu as a guest OS on WinXP. Anyway, I tried the chat software in Ubuntu and rather than use my Google Talk account I decided to play safe and try a different chat service… I chose Jabber and signed up.

    The Jabber site mentioned Idendti.ca and that’s brings me back to your blog post. I’m a relative newcomer to Twitter (September 2009) and social web in general. Your post re Identi.ca dates from March 2009. Have your views remained the same in the 15 months since writing the post, Does Indetica still win over Twitter, given that Twitter has added several new features and enhancements?

    I’d be really interested in an update on this post, if you could do one.

    –Thomas C.

  9. Chris Says:

    With utter disappointment I cannot watch the video posted by T2A, apparently my country doesn’t allow it due to copyright laws.!?!?

    Anyhow, totally agree with T2A’ point. I did have a myspace account for music, I got a facebook account but every now and then I think of deleting it, as I speak to my “friends” via phone or God-forbid, meeting up. I love the internet of expressing ways, ideas and views, learning about what’s going on in the world but I can’t see the point of twitter, but I was interested to see what identi.ca was, initially I thought it might be to do with identiti mountain bike frames, strange but true. Still its interesting none the less.