We’ve had enough of digital monopolies and surveillance capitalism. We want an alternative world that works for everyone, just like the original intention of the web and net.

We seek a world of open platforms and protocols with real choices of applications and services for people. We care about privacy, transparency and autonomy. Our tools and organisations should fundamentally be accountable and resilient.


Eric Mill [LibreList] Re: [redecentralize] Intros and current projects 2014-01-02 01:16:33 (5 years 9 mons 12 days 18:48:00 ago)

I'm here because I'm passionate about decentralized tech, and especially about usability and empowerment of the less tech-savvy among us. For example, I'm a big fan of Webfinger, and did Sinatra and Jekyll libraries for participating.

I don't have a big relevant project going on right now, but I have a small one, and I could use this list's input about it.

Basically, I am interested in making it easy for regular people to take advantage of the efficiencies of self-hosting, without having to know how that works.

Some background: I follow the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court here in the US pretty closely, and when I noticed that people were taking a long time to notice and report on documents posted on the Court's sparse docket, I made @FISACourt, which automatically posts whenever the docket does, with a link to a diff. It also sends an SMS to my personal cell phone, and emails me, so that I can read the posting and follow up with a human summary, often within minutes of the posting. 

This is a real simple model -- it's a small Ruby script -- but it's proven useful, and the account has become widely followed by people working and reporting on surveillance/privacy issues.

Recently, I had an AP reporter ask me if he could get in on these private emails when the FISA Court updates. I offered to do so, on the condition that he cite @FISACourt. That was a dealbreaker for him, which, whatever, but I earnestly encouraged him to take the tiny Ruby script behind it and use it. Unfortunately, he was too technophobic to even hear my suggestion that he ask a developer inside the AP to set up the tracker for him.

But this is a very simple script, and it costs me practically nothing to run. And it's a better deal anyway: none of the free, centralized change detection services will check every 5 minutes for you. IFTTT won't even check an RSS feed for you more than once an hour. It doesn't *feel* that hard to make a system that would offer someone a push button interface to deploying scripts like this. You have the user register an AWS or Heroku account, and the system could use OAuth to get the permissions to deploy it on their behalf. They pay the (tiny) bill and get all the benefits.

Unfortunately, after spending way too much energy to make the script work with Docker, and after I sketched out the design for the generic system and realized how long it'd take to get to a Minimum Viable Product, I ran out of steam.

I'd like to know if anyone is working on, or has heard of, things that would play into this sort of model of Easier Self-Hosting. I haven't seen anything like it right now, but maybe it could tie together a bunch of the technologies people here are working on. 

I could also imagine using Docker and a "packaging" format consisting of some pretty basic manifest metadata that would let the app run sandboxed wherever code may be run, including on a Raspberry Pi (thank you ArkOS).

Anyway, that was longer than I expected, but hopefully there are some useful nuggets in there for people.

-- Eric

On Sun, Dec 29, 2013 at 4:11 PM, Paul Frazee <pfrazee@gmail.com> wrote:
Hi folks.

I'm Paul - just wanted to say hi and encourage a roll call so we all can get to know each other.

I'm involved with redecentralize projects due to the privacy issue and out of an interest in simpler, user-modifiable software, which web systems tend to restrict. I work solo in Austin on a project called Grimwire that's in this realm. I'm also involved in the distributed systems community here, though mostly as an enthusiast (I'm not implementing paxos or anything).

Nice meeting you all, and I look forward to seeing where this community goes.

Paul F