I realize that I still have about a month before I’m officially allowed to start making New Year’s Resolutions, but with this one I want to make sure I give people sufficient warning. As many of you out there know, I’m a big advocate of open source, and an even bigger advocate of open standards. It’s because of open standards we have things like the Internet, the Web and email. Well, in an effort to support open standards, as of the first of the year I am moving over to Jabber exclusively for my instant messaging needs.
At this point, you probably have one or more of the following questions:
- “What is Jabber? And, other than wanting to talk to you, why should I use it?”
- “How do I get Jabber?”
- “What is your new address?”
If you’ve never heard of Jabber, Jabber (known formally as XMPP), is an instant messaging protocol, just like AIM, Yahoo Messenger or MSN. The biggest difference is that Jabber is open and decentralized. For example, if you want to talk to someone who uses AIM, you need to go through AOL’s servers. If you want to talk to someone using MSN, you need to go through Microsoft’s servers. Jabber is actually more like email: you can talk to people on different servers, as long as their server speaks the Jabber protocol. These include servers run by companies such as Google (via Gmail), LiveJournal and Earthlink. In fact, because it’s open, anyone can run their own server, which is what I’m doing now via my new web host.
In addition to openness and decentralization, Jabber has many other noteworthy qualities, including a much better security model than email (no spam!) and the flexibility to add custom functionality on top of the core protocol.
If you think this sounds good, and want to get in on the action, grab a client that supports Jabber. There are tons, but the ones recommended by the Jabber Software Foundation are at the top of this list. Oh, and you’ll also need a Jabber ID. If you have a Gmail account, you already have a Jabber ID: it’s the same as your email address. If you don’t have a Gmail account, there are tons of other servers offering free accounts. Here is a handy guide for getting an account on the jabber.org server.
So if you’ve ever enjoyed my witty one-liners and masterful use of emoticons, and would like to continue to enjoy them from 2007 on, hook yourself up with a Jabber ID and Jabber client and hit me up!