Don Marti

Sat 24 Jan 2009 09:36:29 AM PST

Beware the cloud

Jason Scott writes, .... THE CLOUD. "What of your work do you value?" Like Rick Moen on Web 2.0, but with curse words. You can't trust the only copy of your data to a company that might do what companies do: fail, change its policies, get acquired, whatever.

The problem for most users who aren't Rick Moen is that putting your stuff on a web service is just so easy, compared to keeping it local and backing it up. Webmail, photos, projects, whatever. Mass-market desktop software usability has not kept up with the web. Maybe that's because users don't go out and buy packaged software upgrades any more, but a web developer has a big incentive to get the user to stay on an online application, to sell a few more ads or get a subscription renewal. The usability situation of the early 1990s is reversed: local is hard, networked is easy. Regular users can get through vBulletin web boards faster than IMAP email.

So if trusting Web 2.0 sites is bad (Web 2.0 is where you have to read TechCrunch every morning to know if you'll be able to get your files that day) and working local is hard, what do you do?

There is one solution that should work both for the "keep my own stuff" archivists and for the "let someone else do it" Web 2.0 users; the GitHub model.

It's all online, all browseable, very 2.0, but when you join, you can seamlessly get a full copy of everything locally. If GitHub were to fail or turn evil, you just change refs/remotes and use another server.

That site is just a Git server with a web admin and browse interface, not a full-featured discussion forum. But take something like GitHub, add a cute AJAX web board front end with threading, and you've got a Franklin Street Statement-compatible web board. (Ikiwiki already does something like this for wikis and blogs.)

More links: Justin Mason introduces reassassinate, based on this SpamAssassin IMAP client. Do your SpamAssassin checks at IMAP time, not SMTP time. (Maybe we need both: refuse SMTP for the most heinous spam, then, when the user asks for the mail, classify into likely spam and nonspam based on the most current data.)

Is There Anything Good About Men?

Git design notes from Linus Torvalds: Some historical background.. compare git and Bitkeeper

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