[ubuntu-uk] The Open Source Web (was: www.ubuntu-uk.org)

John Levin john at technolalia.org
Wed May 9 17:04:58 BST 2007

This is a subject that has been exercising me recently (curese you 
myspace!), so excuse venting and change of subject.

Tony Arnold wrote:
> Alan,
> Alan Pope wrote:
>> I have no idea what you're talking about. You are saying that flickr/google 
>> video are proprietary social networking tools that "we" in the open source 
>> community lack?

There certainly are the tools, although they aren't widely used (which 
means, in this FLOSS context, that they aren't widely developed, or even 
known off).

Leader of the FLOSS pack at the moment is mugshot: http://mugshot.org/main

> I think TheVeech is suggesting the open source community should
> create/manage/run more social networking tools such as flickr etc.
> rather than rely on big companies to do it for us and therefore
> (perhaps) not provide support for Linux etc.

We need support for our desktop and OS, yes, but we also need the many 
eyeballs to stomp bugs, improve security etc. A web application can (and 
many do) benefit from the floss community just as much as, say, firefox, 
ubuntu or the kernel.

> Personally, I think this would be very difficult. A service such as
> Flickr must need huge resources for it to be successful (I mean in terms
> of hardware, the disk space alone must be fairly huge). Such resources
> do not come for free, so it either needs to be done by a company that is
> earning money else where or the service itself has to get an income from
> somewhere.

Remember that Ubuntu, Debian, etc need huge and ever expanding resources 
for serving up increasing numbers of packages and isos; to help with 
this there is a mirroring infrastructure, and that model could work with 
the social web. At any rate, by being free n open, there are other ways 
of dealing with bandwidth and hardware, rather than the centralised 
system absolutely required of proprietory web services.

> To be honest, I don't see the problem with Flickr! It's well supported
> by F-spot. Perhaps rumours of some deal between Yahoo and Micro$oft is
> worrying people.

It's not free as in freedom: it suffers from lock-in (myspace is a far 
worse offender in this sense), the users are not stakeholders, but 
audience to be traded, etc; what applies to your desktop and operating 
system applies also to one's web applications.

Okay, so far I've just been banging away on the benefits of free 
software, and saying that this applies to web-application code, which 
is, after all, *code*

There are many, very good, free web apps around: wordpress is the prime 
example, being best of type in the blogging sphere.

But where is the FLOSS webmaster community? Is there such a thing? If 
not, how shall we create it? And can such a thing take to heart the 
ubuntu way, of making things usable and accessible? (And perhaps even: 
polite :) )

Parting thought: this is going to affect *buntu-the-operating system, 
because web services are getting so prevalent. In fact, it is affecting 
it right now, proprietary formats are dominating the web (i.e. flash).


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