/ freedombone

Improving Collaboration

In a recent article Frank Karlitschek talks about how "federated rich collaboration" in combination with self-hosting is a new frontier.

"Our latest release, Nextcloud 12, introduces a wide range of collaboration features and capabilities, functioning in a federated, decentralized way. Users can call each other through a secure, peer-to-peer audio/video conferencing technology; they can comment, edit documents in real time, and get push notifications when anything of note happens."

The traditional mode of collaboration for free and open source software development was email lists and IRC chat, but it doesn't have to end there and there are no doubt other ways in which collaboration between people who are usually not in the same geographical location could happen.

In the more general sense, collaboration tools are the engine which drive production in all fields of endeavor in the modern world.

New collaboration apps

I've added a couple more apps which are good for collaboration to the Freedombone system: Matrix and NextCloud.

Matrix is like an updated version of IRC chat, with encryption and moderation capabilities built in by default. You can either use a native client, or there's also the option to install the Riot Web user interface which is quite nice and includes notifications and WebRTC voice or video chat. It's also possible to have encrypted rooms which can be made invite only such that at least the content of the communications isn't publicly available.

In an earlier version of the system Owncloud was available, but after the Debian packaging debacle it had been removed. Now NextCloud has been introduced as another option for synchronizing files.

There are also many plugins available, including Calendar, bookmarks and video chat.

The state of the interwebs

There are a lot of reasons to grumble about the awful state of the interwebs. The broken security, bad apps, mass surveillance, proprietary nonsense, DRM embarrassingly endorsed by people who ought to know better and centralized silos with their lock-in and arbitrary censorship of anything which may displease advertisers.

I noticed Aral Balkan on Al Jazeera talking about the prospects for running servers in your home the other day, and that level of exposure on a relatively mainstream news channel is something new. It indicates to me that interest in FreedomBox-like self-hosted systems may be increasing and that frustrations with the walled garden systems, like Facebook and Twitter, may be reaching a tipping point. With their advertising business models it will also be hard for the well known technology companies to operate within federated systems where they can't just "own it all".

So alongside the bad stuff there are also reasons for hope that the future internet will be better than what we have now, and that people will at least have the option of owning and controlling their data and communities.