Private Twitter alternatives

If you like the Twitter interface for connecting with office colleagues, but want to keep your posts private, there are a number a couple of options available for building an invite-only microblogging network.

Yammer – A free service that lets anyone in the same e-mail domain (i.e. nww.com) communicate with each other in a similar fashion to Twitter. For a $1 per employee per month fee, companies can get additional administrative and security tools for managing their own Yammer network. (Read a story about open source movers and shakers who Twitter.)

"Yammer is good for sharing links and acting as a company IRQ network," says Tony Byrnes, founder of CMS Watch, whose 12-person staff is spread around the country.

While Yammer does have an archive, Byrnes notes that is not that searchable.

Indenti.ca / Laconica – Is an open source Twitter-like service built on the Laconica platform. It can be used in two ways: As a closed network similar to that of Yammer or as an alternative to Twitter altogether.

Dan York, director of emerging communications technology at Voxeo, uses Identi.ca as a "Plan B" to Twitter. "I've seen the power in public microblogging and I'm leery of being locked into the use of only Twitter," York says. He configures Identi.ca to cross post his items to his Twitter account, keeping both up-to-date simultaneously.

One can also download the code and setup an Indenti.ca server behind the firewall for secure internal microblogging. "Indenti.ca is much more technical and suite for real administrators and developers, that's what I like about it," says Kevin Mullins, team leader for infrastructure services at MIT.

"I could see Laconica being useful for companies that want to experiment with internal microblogging, want it inside of the firewall and don't want to pay for software to experiment with," York says. "Like any open source software, it does give a company precise control over their software."

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