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Re: [libreplanet-discuss] Free as in Freedom Network Services [was: Tack

From: Michał 'rysiek' Woźniak
Subject: Re: [libreplanet-discuss] Free as in Freedom Network Services [was: Tackling Network Effect]
Date: Tue, 15 May 2012 01:04:26 +0200
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Hi there,

Dnia poniedziałek, 14 maja 2012 o 18:06:28 Patrick Anderson 
> > I am willing to pay for domain registration and hosting if nobody
> > else volunteers, or no organisation can donate it, if there is a
> > good design. (Of course, donations would be welcome to help
> > spread the cost!)
> Sharing the costs, control and ownership of hosting is a
> fundamental and inescapable part of drawing users away from
> proprietary offerings.

Yes. However, this can be done in a way that does not preclude 
businesses from building services on that.

> Our lack of understanding on this subject must not stop us from
> tackling this most important issue.

Yes indeed, it mustn't.

> We must design a GNU Mode of Production that allows us to cover the
> real costs of production (purchasing hardware, supplying
> electricity, repairing and operating those machines, etc.) while
> preserving freedom for every user.

Interesting idea.

> We cannot leave these details to corporations that intend to
> subjugate and overcharge us (where 'overcharge' also includes
> spying for the purpose of receiving more advertisement revenue).

I would agree we cannot leave that to corporations (as I believe 
corporations need to be either completely dissolved or some serious 
restrictions should be imposed on them[1]). However, I believe we 
could leave it (in some part, at least) to the private sector.


> We cannot leave this to the charity of a few of us to fund and
> maintain a small set of servers.

No, but we maybe can ask the users to chip in (voluntarily, or by 
"buying" a certain service upgrade, for example). I've seen at least a 
few examples of such a "business model" working.

> Charity cannot scale to compete with Google, Skype, Amazon, etc.

Maybe it's not a question of scaling charity up to compete with 
corporations; maybe it's a question of scaling down corporations. But 
that's for a whole new discussion, I guess.

> We need a rigorous business plan that will allow us to cover the
> real costs of hosting Free Software while preserving User Freedom.
> This can certainly be done.
> Google, Skype, Amazon, and others charge *more* than the costs of
> production, and yet their users do not pay in any 'direct' manner.
> The FSF is already large enough to begin this.

I too believe so.

> The FSF already hosts email ( and that could
> compete with Gmail.
> The FSF already hosts software projects ( that
> could compete with
> We could compete with Facebook immediately (the Free Software is
> already written) if we understood how to cover the costs of *HOST*
> that software in such a way that those costs continue to be
> covered, even as those hardware requirements increase in scale.

That is true.

> We are so weak on the 'business' side that we cannot even cover the
> basic costs of those operations, whereas our proprietary
> competitors cover all of their costs and *more* (in that they also
> receive Profit).

That is also true, but we (NGOs) have what they do not - a very high 
level of public trust. We could build on that.

> We must devise a solution to sharing hardware or we will forever be
> in bondage to those corporations that know how to share (as in
> shareholders) hardware for the purpose of subjugating users.

Yes, hardware sharing would be helpful.

> I have been working on this issue for a while now, and have
> discovered some of the parts of the solution.
> Once we realize how easy it is to co-own the Means of Production
> for hosting Free Software, it will be obvious the same can be done
> for the more important issues of food and housing and health-care.

Let's not go to housing and health care just now. Let's stick with 
free software and user control over data... ;)

Michał "rysiek" Woźniak

Fundacja Wolnego i Otwartego Oprogramowania

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