thinking is dangerous — it leads to ideas
thinking is dangerous — it leads to ideas
Member of the Board of the Polish Linux Users Group. Human rights in digital era hacktivist, Free Software advocate, privacy and anonimity evangelist; expert volunteer to the Panoptykon Foundation; co-organizer of SocHack social hackathons; charter member of the Warsaw Hackerspace; and Telecomix co-operator; biker, sailor.
Formerly President of the Board of the Polish Free and Open Source Software Foundation; CTO of BRAMA Mobile Technologies Laboratory on Warsaw University of Technology and a student at Philosophy Institute on Warsaw University.
For all those services there are viable, free-as-in-freedom alternatives (Diaspora/Friendica, StatusNet, and many more). All those proprietary services are being heavily criticised (among others, for privacy violations, tricking or pushing their users, heavy-handed policies, censorship, nymwars).
And yet, people still overwhelmingly use them, instead of the libre, decentralised, federated alternatives. And yet, people still write software for them and base their business on them — and even when those closed services change their API policies and draw ire of developers, the developers themselves write petitions instead of simply diversifying.
There is a reason for that, and the reason is called Network Effect. In short — the more people use a given communication too, the more new people will use it.
Seems that there is no way out... However, I believe there is. But we have to subvert the network effect to do our bidding!
We do have a problem with fragmentation. Fragmentation is not choice — it is a situation where you don't know which of the incompatible service types to choose — in fact, it's almost a kind of a walled-garden in and of itself.
Choice is what we have with e-mail: you can choose from a plethora of clients, servers, webmail providers, etc; however, regardless of whichever you choose, you are still able to seamlessly communicate with any other e-mail user, using any other combination.
Currently we have quite a few open, free, decentralised social media protocols that have similar functionality but not much interoperability. Before we can move on, we need to change that — and the only way to change that is to agree on one of those protocols and move from there.
I believe we should start a discussion on that and make the decision as soon as possible; and I call upon GNU Project, FSF, FSFE, and all other notable organisations promoting free/libre/open source software to partake in this discussion and throw their weight behind the protocols that would emerge as the agreed-upon solution.
We need to build a service (and methods of creating new instances of it quickly and easily!) that integrates as many different service types as possible uder a single firstname.lastname@example.org identity. I'm thinking at the very least:
Maybe a distro/remix, ready with everything one needs to just install it, enter some basic data and run? We need as many instances of that as possible, as fast as possible.
The problem with FreedomBox and SocialSwarm I see is that they are trying to make two hard transitions at once: from centralised to de-centralised, and from third-party-hosted to self-hosted. I believe this is a tad too an ambitious plan and it should be split into two separate steps. However, if we did Step 0 and Step 1 right, they both would have at least a part of their work done for them.
When we have where to send potential interested users, it's time to start the campaing proper. For this we need a website, endorsed by as many privacy-advocating and FLOSS-evangelizing organisations and people as possible.
It would designate a single day each month, or each quarter, to be (e.g.) "Prison Break Day Q4 2012". Users of walled-gardens could log-in on the website with their walled-garden accounts and pledge to (either, or both):
...before or at the next "Prison Break Day".
Info that they did pledge that would get automagically published on their walled-garden feeds for all their friends to see. As the "Prison Break Day" draws closer, at least one reminder would be sent to them — and to their feeds. Users then would be able to log-in with their libre OpenID to "claim" a given pledge and prove they made good on it. This would also get published on their walled-garden feeds.
To sweeten the deal, the libre services should be able to connect with walled-garden accounts and publish to them.
This would have the effect that people would see how many of their friends in walled-gardens are actually willing to make the switch. For some the amount of those would be enough to make good on their pledges and create the accounts; for some it would even give the incentive to close their walled-garden accounts.
Anyway, we would have the network effect working for us.