The Pownce Conundrum

In my opinion, Digg is one of the trophies of the PHP showcase. Alongside Yahoo! and other prestigious offerings, Digg is one of the foremost examples of PHP and its ability to scale, and scale well.

For those who don’t know, Eli White [and his awesome cowboy hat] is a (the?) senior developer for Digg, and can be found at various conferences through the course of the year. Digg obviously has a knowledgeable, capable team that knows the challenges that come with scaling a website and handling huge volumes of traffic.

So, why, Kevin Rose, why oh why did you choose Python for Pownce? Is this the start of a new trend?

First came Ruby – or more specifically Ruby on Rails – and PHP has (according to Terry Chay) triumphed against it. So is Python our new challenge?

It’s funny that Python usage (at least for web apps) seems to be on the rise with the release of Django. Perhaps this says something – Ruby came into the fray with the release of Rails, Python with Django – maybe thats all Java needs for a comeback; a good web framework…. ugh, sorry, I just sicked up a little in my throat.

So how do I know what Pownce is written in? Leah Culver was nice enough to blog about it, and she even includes the why:

Pownce began as my hobby project, playing around with sending messages and media to my friends. I was also learning Django, a new web framework for Python. I really wanted to learn a new language and develop a web application from scratch.

Not exactly the best reasoning, but who am I to judge? It will be interesting to see if Kevin brings in technical talent from his pool of people at Digg to re-write Pownce in PHP at some point.

Now, I’m curious as to why Twitter is still number one for lifestatus sites™ (aka stalker-bait) when Pownce has a lot more to offer. For one, it’s more stable, anybody who uses Twitter is familiar with their continued service interruptions (in my mind, further proof that Ruby doesn’t scale. I know no site that is as stable as Y!/Digg that is written in Ruby – twitter is the oft-used example and it is a bad one at that). Pownce should be trouncing Twitter (or should that be Trowncing?), so why isn’t it?

Two reasons:

  • Invite Only – Who wants to use a social network that their friends can’t join?
  • Twitter + File Sharing + Link Sharing = IM without the “Instant”.

I’d love to hear from the folks at Pownce a little more on their experiences with using Python – I have nothing against the language and certainly don’t want to start a holy war, just curious to get first hand experience from people “In the know”.

– Davey

stalk me