[ubuntu-uk] The Open Source Web

TheVeech theveech at gmail.com
Wed May 9 21:11:42 BST 2007

On Wed, 2007-05-09 at 17:04 +0100, John Levin wrote:
> 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

Thanks.  Had a look at this, but didn't realise it was FLOSS.  I'd love
to hear more about these tools.

> > 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.

It'd help to see the new users coming along from different backgrounds
using their fresh eyeballs, too, to examine even more than this - things
we may have overlooked for years.

> > 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.

Even though there's community aspects to distros' networks, have they
dealt (maybe less so in recent years) primarily with the 'survival of
the species' - technology to make technology better?  Wasn't the GNU-GPL
initially designed mainly to protect programmers' rights before all
else?  I don't know, but I think you're right that the way these
networks, and things like jabber and bittorrent, have shown they can
work for masses of people could be adapted to projects with a slightly
different emphasis.  But is the imperative there yet?

I think the incentives behind FLOSS that I've read of are great for
tasks, but less productive for getting people socialising in ways that
you find on many of these sites.  FWIW - and what makes it relevant here
- is that it seems that the benefits that such social networks could
have on productivity is a neglected area.

I don't think the reason we've neglected such networks is just because
they're proprietary and we're still too geeky, it's just that they
effectively got there before us.  It might be that proprietary services
- OS and web - had to adapt sooner because they were hit with the
usability demands of general users earlier than us, and we're just
catching up.  At times I still hear some sort of elitism from linux
users that flies in the face of key principles - I'm as guilty as anyone
of that - but this elitism isn't usually heartfelt and it's bound to
become less of an issue with time.  We might just have to wait for that
time for 'socialising' sites like these to be seen as important in the
FLOSS world.

> > 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.

This is what gripes me a bit.  I can get people using the OS, but when
they get here, what am I going to say?  Screw Flickr, email your snaps
and see your mates down the pub?  I'd get a predictable response no
matter how good my arguments were.  Okay, it's not the most important
thing, but it's still something I can't do for people that could be
done.  These people want something I can't offer, so they'll just go
elsewhere, and that elsewhere is probably going to be proprietary, with
formats and ideologies that reinforce the idea that proprietary works,
and with the idea that FLOSS must be for geeks because, to them, it
looks anti-social in comparison.

> 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.

There's Joomla and Drupal for CMS, which aren't too bad, either.  Maybe
all the tools are there already and no-one's felt the need to adapt

> 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 :) )

Hey, never let etiquette get in the way of a good text scrap!  Must be
summat to do with the medium, because nearly everyone I know has had
their 'moments' online.  I think we could do with a Ubuntu-UK meet
sometime - with contributors AND the silent ones!

There's hosts you can go to, who will allocate you space, but I'm not
sure how these work or what the criteria are for being accepted.  AFAIK
they're there mainly for software projects and campaigns.

All I did, earlier this year, was grab myself some webspace for a
sandbox from the US when I thought the pound had peaked against the
dollar - it hadn't.  So I wouldn't call myself a FLOSS webmaster, but a
webmaster trying to learn and make the most of it.

How anyone could get something off the ground, I don't know, but when
Ubuntu's site makes a principled statement, don't we believe it?  That
level of trust would be something to aim for.  If people had the
services our people are capable of producing, with the trust we can
offer, that'd be pretty unbeatable.

> 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).
> John

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