Julian Bond wrote:
> Whatever happened to P2P and Decentralisation as a design pattern?
> Wordpress and Movable type became Myspace and Facebook.
> RSS became Google Reader
> Distributed email servers and desktop clients have become Google Mail
> Posting a Quicktime file on your site has become YouTube
> Running your own shoutcast server has become Last.FM tag radio
> IRC has become Twitter
> This post was prompted by Twitter and Twitter's success. If you were
> going to design this from scratch knowing what they know now, would you
> really use a pull architecture, centralised web system and Ruby on
> Did we all forget about Decentralisation or has the pendulum just swung
> out to the opposite end and is due to swing back any time now?
> ps. I know those questions are strawmen and the truth is that (almost)
> everything that has ever happened is still happening.
a few thoughts that have been kicking around in the back of my brain for
- from an end user perspective, the hosted software is very appealing:
it's easy, supported, etc., etc.
- this is particularly true for network applications - email lists,
blogs, etc. - it's simply easier to use Yahoo groups than to set up and
maintain a list server or a copy of wordpress (and it's hard to argue
with zero cost)
- the downsides are less immediately apparent - quick, easy, free tends
to trump loss of privacy and the risk that your service provider might
go away or change their terms of service
Which keeps leading me to the question of: is there a third alternative
to doing it yourself vs. going with a commercial service?
The basic answer I keep coming around to is some combination of:
- open source software (obviously)
- to a degree, a generation of truly decentralized, self-healing,
applications that don't require servers (think DHT-based storage)
- a cooperative computing grid of some sort - i.e., a decentralized
application server environment for hosting things that work better in a
server-based environment - and a class of applications that can operate
on top of these (think the original listserver, where a list could be
spread across multiple, cooperating servers) - of course security,
ownership, and such become serious challenges
- an organizational/financial model that supports it all (e.g., a
cooperative of local ISPs, web developers, and others who are very close
to the end users)
personally, I provide list and web services to a number of local PTOs,
churches, community groups, and so forth - a lot of it pro-bono (as the
result of formerly running a development/hosting shop and still having a
couple of servers sitting in a data center) -- I'd love to find a few
collaborators to gain some economies of scale