[linux-elitists] What ever happened to the Open Web? (and other topics)

Tony Godshall togo at of.net
Mon Jul 13 17:02:34 PDT 2015

You are not the only one frustrated.

What's not clear is a course of action,
except to perhaps note that free software
has often grown out of frustration with
proprietary "solutions", as a more usable
less well funded, more distributed alternative,
where each author scratches their own itch-
it's a slow processes but it will come, and
unlike in the old days, most of today's
vendors realize it.  The successful ones
coexist with and even feed the open source
they depend on- they embrace, extend,
and not so much extinguish.  I hope.  Your
XMPP example, of course, contradicts.


On Mon, Jul 13, 2015 at 2:49 PM, Andy Bennett <andyjpb at ashurst.eu.org> wrote:
> Hi,
> What happened to the Open Web?
> Facebook XMPP deprecated
> MSN Messenger protocol now closed
> Google Talk XMPP is 2nd class
> Don't mention Slack.
> https://twitter.com/databasescaling/status/620701977375322113
> Lots of land grabs in old territories now that "startups" are
> mainstream. Did the UNIX vendor wars teach us nothing?
> https://twitter.com/databasescaling/status/620702191779758081
> Yes. I appreciate the irony of tweeting these things but I suppose
> you've got to meet people where the conversation is.
> What follows isn't really an essay. More like a bunch of
> barely-sentences strung together in the hope that some of you can help
> me form them into Actual Thoughts. :-)
> I cut my teeth in the '90s just about when "Free Software" was a thing
> and "Open Source" was becoming a movement. I guess I never really
> noticed the change in me from becoming a beginner to being an old hand
> but now I look back and there's not many left of us!
> So perhaps that means I'm the one who should be taking responsibility
> now. Yet somehow I'm not. I'm doing a little bit of software and sending
> it out into the world with open licenses where I can, but I'm not really
> like one of those great people in the '90s who really started the
> communities and held them together. Where are those people now? Google?
> Blogging? Retired?
> "We" really did make a lot of headway in the '90s, through until about
> 2005. Not only had we made pretty good alternatives to most proprietary
> products, they were almost usable by "real" people. Then Ubuntu (for all
> its sins) came along and made it accessible to "regular" men and women.
> I noticed we were losing ground in the handheld space. That was "the new
> platform". ...but it was "OK", right? ...because general purpose PCs
> were where the genesis of "the next big thing" always occurred because
> that was the only environment that could host them.
> Now there's "mobile first" and whilst that's not a terribly open
> platform, it's certainly where the mind-share of so-called "developers"
> is. No matter what you think of modern development methodologies and
> product values, that's where the mind-share is. ...and, as has been
> wrung out on this list in the past, that culture cares nothing for the
> Open Source foundations that it builds with. That's where the next big
> things are happening now. Or in walled garden apps (and sometimes
> ecosystems) that are hosted on a website somewhere. Even if it's not
> intentional, there's usually not any time to invest in the
> infrastructure or build a lot of connectors.
> I don't want to pick on anyone in particular, but why didn't Slack
> embrace the IRC protocol? Isn't it just as easy to make an IRC bot as it
> is to make any single Slack integration? Damn: even if they embraced it
> and extended I'd still have a lot more respect for them than I do for
> what they've done. Afterall, it's easier to write a new, 80% thing than
> it is to understand an existing thing that works.
> ...but don't let me rant! Back to mobile!
> Over the last few years (since the demise of Open Moko really) I have
> come to the belief that "we" have a very small window to really attack
> the handheld device market in a meaningful way. However, this window is
> now closing fast.
> With the advent of colour e-ink there is, for the first time in about 20
> years, an opportunity to ship a very simple handheld device. The barrier
> to entry for current handheld devices is rather high because they
> require a lot of processing power and graphics capabilities to support
> the kind of experience that is expected. However, with a first
> generation, colour e-ink display the requirements are far lower and
> there's a fighting chance that someone, working on their own without
> much budget, can ship a useful device with a decent battery life.
> I'm not talking about taking the market by storm. Such ambitious plans
> are not for me. I'm talking about itch-scratching. I'm waiting for
> mobile devices to get as good as the Psion and the Palm Pilot were!
> They were about *productivity*, not media consumption & messaging. I
> want something that I can empty my thoughts into as I wander around. Not
> "whilst sitting on a train": actual wandering.
> I'm a technical person, so most of my work is done sitting at a desk,
> but it turns out that I do most of my thinking when I'm wandering from
> place to place. For now I'll forgo my shower thoughts: those tend to be
> more along the lines of architecture and design which are less word
> based, difficult to type and waterproof computers are harder.
> So I want something with some kind of editor.
> ...and I want a long battery life because I really am incredibly lazy.
> ...and I guess I'll take an Internet connection and a cellular
> connection as well because they enable a whole bunch of really useful
> things when you're in the city and even I have to admit that messaging
> has it's uses even if it exposes you to interruptions. ...but I do that
> with a small hesitation because I'd really like it all to work really
> well "offline" so that I can keep going whenever is convenient for *me*.
> A colour screen enables one of the killer apps of large-screen handhelds
> which is mapping.
> ...and e-ink enables a sensible battery life.
> ...so we need GPS.
> Of course, once you can type effectively on the device then you can
> program as well. So it'd be nice to write little macros for things.
> ...and that implies a much more tightly integrated environment than the
> commercial platforms.
> Rather than a system of apps that are hosted in an OS, I'd have a system
> of services that could project (or create) views. I'd make it very data
> centric. So you might have a "mapping" view where each service could
> offer a different layer: one for the images or cartography, one for the
> GPS, one for the GPSs of your friends, one for the router, etc, etc.
> Anyway, I seem to have degenerated into a wishlist rather than anything
> productive and I've covered "The open web", "free software development &
> culture" and "mobile" which I think is plenty of stuff for now!
> Am I the only one living in this frustration?
> Where are all the sensible people of yesteryear who could see the flaws
> in the status quo, knew how to fix them and had the energy to go about it?
> Regards,
> @ndy
> --
> andyjpb at ashurst.eu.org
> http://www.ashurst.eu.org/
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Best Regards.
This is unedited.
This message came out of me
via a suboptimal keyboard.

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