On percloud, again

 

Just an answer to some critiques received today.

Percloud (PERmanent/PERsonal CLOUD) is the name I gave in 2013 to my own idea of “a REALLY usable, all-in-one, individual alternative to Facebook, Gmail, Flickr, Dropbox…”.

Earlier today this proposal, and my way to make it, has been criticized in a series of tweets starting here. Here are the tweets, and my answers.

The tweets

  1. I will be harsh, and I’m really sorry. Your webpage is what is Vaporware and is also a kind of wishful thinking. Everybody in the Freesoftware world agree with you and is working on your project if you will. I read it all I think by now, or read enough
  2. You have few requirements, but they are actually incompatible. You are trying to achieve la quadrature du cercle :) Just a simple thing, you say it needs a domain name. I would agree. But a domain name costs 10$/year. Facebook is for “free”.
  3. You can’t avoid the simple fact, that reaching mass adoption would be difficult already if people have to pay 10$/year. And Facebook was financed by capital. For your project to be successful, I think you (or..) need capital. This also contradicts some requirements.
  4. And the tone you use in describing other project, I’m sorry, but is not ideal. All you did so far is creating a webpage and criticizing others. When you say “NO thanks” about sandstorm, sandstorm people put a lot of brains and capital to build it. And you come and say that?
  5. As an advice, I’d try to be more humble in your way of doing. I don’t think you hold the truth, and the freesoftware world is passionate about your project. I’m not saying it is efficient currently, but I’d say we are already trying hard.
  6. I’d advice you to meet all these beautiful people, and ask how can you help to make these projects successful. And if you have a better idea, great, start it, the world is free, and I wish you all the best in this adventure.

And my answer

1: vaporware/wishful thinking

As the Vaporware page itself explains, Vaporware is “a product, typically computer hardware or software, that is announced to the general public but is never actually manufactured nor officially cancelled”. Mine is a proposal, and I made it very clear, many times. It is a proposal, not an announcement. It may be stupid or impossible, but it cannot be vaporware, by definition.

Wishful thinking, instead, is “decision-making and the formation of beliefs based on what might be pleasing to imagine, rather than on evidence, rationality, or reality.”

Is my proposal wishful thinking? Of course, I feel it is not, but I do acknowledge that I cannot honestly exclude this. What I can say, is that it came out exactly because I perceived, and still do, some wishful thinking exactly as defined above, in the proposed alternatives I have seen so far.

2 and 3: incompatible requirements and mass adoption

A domain name costs more than zero dollars per year, while Facebook is “free”? Of course. But in general “Control of and access to identity systems is more important than it has ever been before” and I believe that giving everybody the possibility to own their domain name as soon as possible is a must. NOT a definitive solution, mind you. A must to move to something better, later on (like the percloud ifself, by the way).

On percloud, again /img/a-man-s-home-is-his-castle.jpg

Back to costs: I am convinced that bringing percloud to the masses that need it first would cost much less than any other alternative to achieve the same result that I’ve seen so far. You can read why I say so, and why, right now, I don’t bother where to find the money, here.

Question: ignoring costs for a moment, which other requirements would be uncompatible???

6: Helping to make other projects successful, or “start it yourself”

About helping other projects, please see the “telling Tanenbaum to work on Linux” here (2014).

On starting it myself, for the thousandth time since 2013:

  • I cannot afford to even start any more work on something like this for free. I. Cannot. Afford. It. Period
  • All I can afford for free is to keep the whole proposal online, and tweet or blog about it very occasionally, as in this case
  • Which is a non-issue because, again, “anybody else can do it and is sincerely welcome to do so. Please do it! Jut give credit where credit is due and go ahead”

4 and 5: attitude

“All you did so far is creating a webpage and criticizing others”: I explained many times why I do continue to criticize others, like this one in 2014:

If you see somebody saying “I’m going to Mexico” but driving towards Canada, should you shut up just because you can’t give him a ride to Mexico yourself? Especially if you DO need him and all his friends to reach Mexico?

About “When you say “NO thanks” about sandstorm, sandstorm people put a lot of brains and capital to build it. And you come and say that?”

Of course I say that. I did work in Sandstorm in other projects, as I explicitly say here. Sandstorm is not what I think is needed to solve the very specific problem I am talking about. That’s it. And how is what I wrote disrespectful of the Sandstorm project and team? Sandstorm is a Ferrari, and all I need is a scooter. What else should I say but “no thanks”?

The problem I care about: I am even more convinced now than I was in 2013 that the most urgent thing to do in this space is, without comparison, to find a way to develop, but above all to package and offer as a service what I call percloud. I am convinced that other ways to “replace Facebook”:

  • are great technically, and from several points of view better than percloud AS A LONG TERM DEFINITIVE SOLUTION
  • but either do not solve the right problem for enough people and/or cannot make any meaningful difference soon enough anyway.

Maybe some day I will realize I’m 100% wrong on this, and change my mind. I cannot exclude it, that is why I try to follow what is happening. But until then, why should I contribute to those projects, or promote them as solutions for the specific problem I care about?

About humility, and general tone:

Yes, I acknowledge that some of the answers I’ve given on this in the past come out as arrogant. I am sincerely sorry about that. Let me say that when that happens it is, much more than arrogance, only frustration due to this problem:

On percloud, again /img/cost-of-five-years-NOT-doing-perclouds.jpg
Click for details

Last but not least:

On percloud, again /img/percloud-vs-others-2.png

I wish sincere luck to all the projects I criticize in my writing, and which tackle different problems. But the only problem I really care about in this space is the one shown in the bottom right corner of the figure above. That figure is explained here, and the problem is making Percloud As A Service possible, domain names and all.

Software-wise, I think NextCloud should be a great part of it, which is why I try to follow and review NextCloud periodically.

But the greatest part remains finding web hosting organizations, universities, whoever… willing to experiment, and able, as I am not, to get some funding.

If you think my proposal does not make sense, just ignore it. If you think it makes sense and have more time, skills or resources than me to build the foundation for it that I suggest here, just do it yourself. No need to wait for me, or involve me. No problem, just give credit. If you can and want to hire me to do serious work on this, here I am. If you just want to discuss this without hurries or commitments on either side, you’re welcome!.

That’s it, really. In the net weeks, I will contact all the hosting providers mentioned in that Twitter thread because I would really like to collect their opinions and publish them here!

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