Percloud

  • On February 28th, 2017, a “cockup at Amazon facility in Virginia, US” caused its S3 cloud storage to fail. This fault led to “major websites and services - including Imgur, Medium, Trello, Yahoo webmail, the Docker Registry Hub.. falling offline, losing images, or left running like treacle. Basically, that outage “knackered half the internet, it seems, because it all relies on S3 to store data online”. Just to stress: this is one S3 region that has become inaccessible, yet web apps are tripping up and vanishing as their backend evaporates away.
  • By now, you probably already know that Yahoo scanned customer emails for U.S. intelligence”, and if you haven’t you can read all the details in the previous link, or in many other places. Here, I only want to point out one thing, mainly but not only to software geeks, and to any organizations whose goal include promoting privacy: this whole Yahoo story is just one more perfect example that one of the most urgent things to do in the digital sphere is to give everybody their very own, personal email server, at the smallest possible cost.
  • I had (at least) three big reasons to be at the fOSSa 2015 conference, a couple of weeks ago. Two already covered elsewhere and one, “Citizen Cloud: Towards a more decentralized internet?”, that deserves its own separate post. Before getting to that, however, let me quickly remind the first two reasons: first, I and Wouter Tebbens had to present a great research project we of the Free Knowledge Institute are working on, that is Digital Do-It-Yourself (DiDIY).
  • One year ago I launched a proposal, with related fundraiser, for an alternative to Facebook, Gmail and similar services really usable by normal people, the percloud. That fundraiser did not succeed, which is no problem at all for me, because I do have many other things to do. I am writing this post only because I believe that something like the percloud is still sorely needed, and the sooner anybody does it, the better.
  • (please note that this was just the second part of this other post!) Don’t you see that the percloud could never be as secure, performant, flexible etc as [some other project]? Of course it couldn’t. It doesn’t even try to, it just aims to be actually used by many people. I propose it as an intermediate step towards such solutions, that it is absolutely necessary to provide as soon as possible.
  • Fargo is (I’m really simplifying here!) Open Source software by Dave Winer that lets you build a blog out of files stored on your Dropbox online storage account. Ron Chester explains very well here why he is using the Fargo Web publishing system. I find particularly important, and a must-read for many “sophisticated” users of the current popular social networks, his explanation of why it’s pretty dumb to publish anything more relevant than pictures of your last breakfast on Facebook:
  • Sometimes support comes in the most unexpected ways. Today the NSA, the super-secret spy agency that intercepts countless digital communications worldwide, greatly helped me, by providing evidence that a little project of mine is a really great idea that is sorely needed NOW.Thanks NSA. I mean it. And the reason is that (full story here): http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/personal-cloud-free-software/ the NSA is gathering contact lists in large numbers that amount to a sizable fraction of the world’s e-mail and instant messaging accounts.
  • Shortly after launching my proposal for a personal, p2p replacement of Facebook, Gmail and similar services I was contacted by the developers of Cozy Cloud. We had a very interesting discussion, which ended with their proposal to write a post for their blog, to explain what similarities, differences and possible synergies I see between the two projects. Here I am, looking forward to your feedback! (this post had been sent on 2013/10/08 to the cozycloud team for immediate publication on their blog.
  • (this is a translation in Albanian of my percloud crowdfunding call, kindly provided by Gagi Berani. An Italian translation is here. Thanks in advance to whoever may provide translations in other languages) Permbledhje e shkurte Unë jam një autor freelance, hulumtues, dhe aktivist që punon në çeshtjet e të drejtave digjitale dhe të Softuerit të lirë. Mund të lexoni lidhur më punën dhe background-in tim këtu.Qëllimi i kësaj fushate është mbledhja e fondeve për punën fillestare në hulumtimin e alternativave të Gmail, Facebook, Dropbox dhe shërbimeve tjera të cilët përkohësisht i kam quajtuar “percloud”.
  • I just got an email by somebody asking how the Free Software alternative to corporate social networks that I call percloud would work. I answered that…In a certain sense, we may compare a percloud to a traditional FTP server on which you would upload your posts, pictures and so on, in order to make them available from any computer or smartphone with an FTP client or Web browser, to you and every other Internet user else with the right permissions.