This morning, Michel Bauwens asked if any part of my proposals for personal clouds are actually working, or if they still are just proposals. The answer is: Yes, they still are “just proposals. Here is why, and why you should still care.
In 2018, I am still sure that it would be way easier to implement a percloud AND achieve its mass adoption (which is THE thing that really counts, way more than its technical coolness, or innovation) than to achieve the same result with any of the alternatives I know of. Because what propose is in large part integration of Free Software that I myself have been using for more than ten years now to self-host all my own websites, my own email server, my own online bookmarks… So, strictly speaking, several parts of what I call “percloud” are already working, for me and millions of other geeks, for a long time now.
But I also well aware that making what I already use really usable for the masses is a whole different thing (albeit, I repeat, way simpler than getting mass adoption for anything like e.g. Scuttlebutt. More on this below). And I can’t afford to even trying to implement it myself, not even as pet project. The day a sponsor comes to pay me and, say, 10⁄15 REAL programmers to work full time 18+ months on it.. then we may get something usable done. I’ve said this very clearly since 2013, and it has not changed.
Meanwhile, the world has lost four more years that it could have used to wean itself off centralized social networks and web services. In part, this is the fault of FOSS people running after grand schemes, instead of doing something quick and dirty, but working. On the other hand, general awareness that the situation is unbearable is much, much higher today, so theoretically it should be much easier to get sponsoring.
As far as I am personally concerned, things haven’t changed. I must pay bills monthly. Even if I HAD all the necessary skills, which I definitely do not have, I could afford to sit 6+ months just looking for funding, writing complete business plans, whatever.. without being paid. That’s why I’ve been saying for years, and repeat now: “what matters is that percloud are tried as soon as possible. Whoever can implement and test them, please go ahead without me, no problem. Just give credit where credit is due”.
Which masses are we talking about?
Here is another thing that I have been saying in many formats since 2012⁄2013: in the bigger picture, any “alternative to Facebook” that is based on any variant of the “run your own server, to keep your data it” paradigm seems naive, unvoluntarily elitist, or both to me. An “alternative to Facebook” must be, by definition, something immediately adoptable by the masses AND interoperable with the rest of the Web, and with at least Facebook and Twitter. Otherwise it’s useless, as a “social” network. More on this in “Forget Net Neutrality. Think personal clouds instead”.
Even the most hardcore software nerds need to communicate with the other 99.99% of people. But average people are not able to be system administrators, or willing to do it. They are perfectly aware of this, and it wouldn’t be right to consider them second class citizens for this. Average people don’t even have a real computer anymore, just a smartphone. Average people are like this, and this won’t change for decades, no matter how many coding classes you throw at them.
Ddon’t even get me started on people for which it is physically impossible to “run their own server”. Migrants crossing the Mediterranean on rafts could never “run their own server”. Homeless people don’t have 24x7 electricity. But nowadays,even many of those people have both a smartphone AND a Facebook account, or something equivalent. Because they NEED it.
The only socially realistic “alternative to Facebook” is one that offers something like the percloud, but also as a service, as I wrote in my 2017 proposal, and explained again here, just a few days ago.
Feedback is sincerely welcome, but before giving it…. in order to save YOUR time, please DO also read: