30 months later…
An excellent post by Brianna Laugher served to remind me of the need to reboot autonomo.us:
Autonomy is a term not widely used by free software activists, although it has been – the autonomo.us group was set up to help promote free network services. But I wonder: what if we reformulated the four freedoms in the terminology of autonomy rather than freedom, and emphasised the benefit to communities over the benefit to individuals?
(I strongly agree with Brianna’s post, but autonomo.us didn’t start to re-conceptualize software freedom via new terminology, so I’ll leave that aside for now, and be glad for the unintended reminder.)
I think it is fair to say that since the publication of the Franklin Street Statement, no free network service and no federated protocol has emerged to seriously challenge the increasing centralization of the web and software, and the critique and recommendations of autonomo.us, as stated in the FSS, have not gained the currency we had hoped for.
But the need for free-as-in-freedom services and federation, and the salience of our critique and recommendations, have only increased (admittedly a wholly unsurprising and self-serving assessment). Two examples that I’ve personally blogged about: flailing attempts at user autonomy within proprietary systems, and lack of appreciation of software freedom and nearby as the most potent mechanism to promote and protect our autonomy. (Warning: those are highly opinionated personal posts that only indirectly touch on free network services; if the implications are unclear, I take it as instructive as to how far we, or at least I, have to go.)
How to go forward? Certainly, the FSS and nearby deserve harsh scrutiny in all aspects. But mainly we need to create, deploy, and use free network services and federated/distributed/P2P protocols.
In the tiny universe of people who contributed to the FSS or discussions immediately following, I would guess the three most significant developments in the last 30 months are the pending shift of StatusNet to pump.io, the launch of GNU MediaGoblin, and the ongoing development of libre.fm.
Uncharitably, the most pertinent shared characteristic of these projects is that federation is to-be-implemented. [Correction: Evan says pump.io already federates.]