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Architecture behind large-scale social sites like Twitter - help with a new startup.

Posted on 2011-09-27
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Last Modified: 2012-05-12
I apologize in advance for this not being a specific programming question, but I think this is a good place to get relevant information.

Basically, I have an idea for what I believe to be an interesting social networking site (not just a clone of existing things, but something useful and unique); I have a detailed specification document describing how everything works, but I'm not sure how best to proceed from here. Architecturally, it seems like it would be most similar to something like Twitter, and I have some idea of what technologies are involved in this (SQL database, ajax, mobile integration, etc.). I do not have the time to code everything myself, and honestly some of it is likely beyond me. So, I suppose my pool of questions is something like this:

Assume I am non-programmer with a legitimately good idea for a new and large-scale social networking service, similar (in architecture) to Twitter, and some capital to make it happen:

How do I proceed?
What is the architecture behind a site like Twitter and what technologies does it use? How do I find people with experience building these types of systems for consulting/development purposes?
Are there any initiatives (government or otherwise) that can help me in such a start-up endeavor?

I appreciate any help you can offer. Thanks, and again I apologize for the broadness of this question.
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Question by:andrewaiello
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Jason C. Levine earned 500 total points
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Here's a good discussion about Twitter's architecture that should give some insight into how something that massive is scaled.

http://www.infoq.com/news/2009/06/Twitter-Architecture

Bear in mind that article is now two years old and Twitter has grown exponentially since it was published.

Proceeding is tough.  What you need more than anything else are coders to get started building a scaled-down version of your idea.  If you can, approach people you know and bring them in as partners.  They build, you all split the money if and when the money comes in.  Alternately you can try to get people to invest in nothing more than an idea and then hire but I suspect that's going to be hard without at least something tangible to show VCs.

It's also tough to have conversations about the idea without giving the farm away.  Maybe go to some user groups and talk about scalability using certain technologies and get some information that way but for anything specific, get NDAs before talking about it.

Not sure about government programs or NGOs either but I would assume the best you could do in this climate is an SBA loan or some kind of grant from a foundation.  This isn't my area of expertise but perhaps it gives you a couple of ideas to research.

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