App.net currently embodies a hierarchical vision, where a single top-level provider delivers the infrastructure everyone shares. This is quite unlike StatusNet, which embodies a federated vision of social data networking. If you want to run your own private instance of StatusNet you can — it’s open source, after all. Then if you want to join up with the rest of the planet, you can federate with other instances, creating a meshed data bus with many connection pathways. By contrast, App.net appears to want to maintain a commercial control point on the market it hopes to create.
So what does App.net have going for it? A proof-of-concept Twitter clone, for sure. A torrent of great ideas, certainly. And $500,000 that’s been given as a gift? Definitely. But its main asset is 10,000 people who want an open infrastructure for digital CB enough to risk $50 to see if it works out. That initial user base is worth at least as much as the money and will be a hard taskmaster.
And then there’s this.