World's Smallest Open Source Violin
This is exactly I would like to tell millions of Skype users today, when Microsoft bought it. This is a perfect example why giving away control over entire communication in a given area to a single entity is not a good idea.
So, what could happen now? Let’s see:
- Skype client for Linux development might halt;
- same goes for the Mac client.
But, because of all the contacts that Skype users only have accessible via Skype, it’ll be hard for them to move to any other solution. In other words, damned if you do, damned if you don’t… Suddenly it turns out that a situation where all three elements – the protocol, client and server software – are in one hands is a very bad one.
How it could have been¶
A perfect example of a better world, or how it could and should have been, is e-mail. Because the protocol is an open standard, because anybody can set-up their own server – the situation is much, much better:
- there are multiple providers;
- there are multiple clients to choose from.
That means that regardless of the luck or ideas of a single provider or vendor of a single client, we can always go elsewhere. We can choose the client software, regardless of the service provider we use; we can change the service provider without changing the familiar client software we have grown accustomed to. We have a choice.
Had we all been using a standardized, open VoIP protocol, like SIP or Jingle, we would simply change the provider – without losing our contacts, having to learn new client software nor wondering whether our friends and family chooses the same new solution we will.
Facebook, of course. Had I been using it, I would seriously start considering Diaspora. It’s alpha, a lot of to-do’s still down the road. But it works and is attracting more and more users. And most important of it all it works according to those few simple rules:
- standardized, open protocol;
- anybody can set-up a server;
- anybody can use any client they choose to.