I’ve proposed a panel discussion on issues of Autonomy in the Cloud for the upcoming South by Southwest Interactive in March 2009.
I think that SxSW is a potentially very friendly crowd where network services and cloud computing are a hot topic and Free and Open Source software are favourably considered. It’s a great place for us to be challenging the conventional wisdom that freedom and autonomy aren’t important “in the cloud”.
Ideally the panel would comprise members of the autonomo.us group, other people interested in autonomy and software-as-a-service, and maybe some dissenters to make the whole thing interesting.
If you’re interested in user autonomy, the Franklin Street Statement, and Open Software Services, please take a few moments to register for the Panelpicker and vote for the above panel. Tell your friends, colleagues, and neighbors, vote early, vote often! Thanks!
It’s interesting to see that fairly popular social bookmarking site Magnolia has announced their plan to make the next version of their software Free and Open Source Software. Magnolia’s had an “open” strategy for a while, with support of OpenID for authentication, xFolk for bookmarks HTML, and other open-ish things that give them an edge in the early adopter community.
Social bookmarking is a pretty crowded field on the Web, with delicious.com (formerly del.icio.us) taking the greatest amount of mindshare, although I have no idea if they’re still holding the majority of the market. The increased use of bookmarking tool aggregators like ShareThis show that the gaggle of bookmarking sites is a little confusing for everyone. In this kind of market, taking the Free Network Service road is a great chance to differentiate.
I hope that the plan to make their “next version”, dubbed “M2″, Free Software doesn’t devolve into never making the software Free and Open Source. I also hope they review carefully the Open Software Service Definition and consider making ma.gnolia.com an OSSD-compliant site. Ma.gnolia.com already allows users to apply a Creative Commons license to their bookmark stream, although they default to the Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike which doesn’t meet the Free Cultural Works Definition. I think they should consider long and hard how to make all data (except data the user marks as private) Open Culture.
What I find most heartening is the M2 project charter (PDF, 190KB), which shows they’ve really thought through the distributed nature of the software. As I mentioned with identi.ca, making a social networking site’s software Open Source is an empty gesture if people on different servers can’t connect socially. It looks like M2 will have ways to aggregate various M2 instances together, and even aggregate the aggregators.
Good luck to Ma.gnolia.com on this project. I hope they can rally a community around it, reach out to other Open Source bookmarking projects to implement a common distributed protocol, and generally just rock out. A Free Network Service for social bookmarking would be an excellent addition to an open software services ecology.
The announcement of the DiSo Project in December of 2007 was a great encouragement for people on the Web who are worried about identity silos, “walled gardens”, and user lock-in on social networking platforms. Since so many of these subjects are closely related to user autonomy, I did an interview with Steve Ivy about the origins and goals of DiSo, current progress, and where he things things are going in the future.
Kragen Sitaker has been working for years on the problem of making Web sites and other network services that respect users’ autonomy in the same way Free Software does. When we initiated the group that became the autonomo.us project, his writings were important in shaping my thinking on the subject. I wanted to take some space on this blog to point to some of his more interesting essays.