Growing your idea into a business is a difficult path to take. Some time ago we had a webinar on #opensource software/hardware business management and fundraising. NGI TETRA also organizes more general business/organization bootcamps, which next week will start another one for #NextGenerationInternet funded projects (also including #FSFE to include FLOSS licensing discussion). Check it out, there are still some places open:

@NGIZero And then people ask me why I think NGI is bullshit. It’s because of crap like this.

Why do you need an accelerator? Why do you need to “scale up” free and open source? That’s the Silicon Valley / venture capital model. And so fitting that you have venture capitalists on board.

I wish you were what you say you are but you aren’t. And that’s what really upsets me.

@Aral Balkan @NGI Zero open source funding

Aral, what is your scope for "small" tech?
1. running a family
2. running a village
3. running a city
4. running a state
5. running everything globally

I think small does not mean you leave larger infrastructures for "big". Small things can connect, cluster and run a city. Why not? Why not connect globally? And scale-up is needed for that. The software for heterogenous clustered infrastructures has to be far more complex and tested.

That is not venture capital model. You need it with democratic open design model, you need it in coop model.

@michal @NGIZero Small Tech starts with the person. So you are not running anyone else (you running others is the colonial model).

You have your own tools with which to have agency in the digital network age.

1. A family is a collection of people.
2. A village is a collection of people.
3. A city is a collection of people.
4. A state is a collection of people.
5. Humankind is a collection of people.

Small Tech models the person so people don’t have to be “run”; so they can run themselves.

@michal @NGIZero The problem with centralised models is that they model organisations, not people. And that creates a hierarchy where the power, tools, and agency lie with organisations (corporations, cities, nation states, etc.) and not with people. Where people are modeled into such system, it is done so as “the other” (users, customers, citizens) by a privileged few (designers, developers, executives, governments) with varying degrees of democratic legitimacy. Small Tech models people.

@michal @NGIZero … And that opens the door to organisations being merely ad hoc associations of people where the people have the tools, agency, and power, not organisations.

@aral @michal @NGIZero this thinking is limited in that we cannot exist as "individuals" only as community. So what makes it possible for us to be "human" is community. And yes this argument is as old as cheese so better to build bridges than fight as the world burns #climatechaos

We need to build code that is nurturing to "individuals" AND works for "community" the only thing "active" in tech that comes close to this is the Activertypub networks #OMN

@hamishcampbell @michal @NGIZero Again: communities are made up of individuals. Unless you model the individual as the atomic unit within your design and privilege the individual with power and agency within your system, you are modeling the organisation and giving whoever runs the organisation power and agency over other people.

Case in point: whoever runs a Mastodon instance is the king of that instance. Not so with Small Web, where each node is individually owned and controlled by a person.

@hamishcampbell @michal @NGIZero What I’m trying to say is that when individuals don’t own and control the means of communication themselves, you don’t have a community, you have an autocracy to whatever degree those who do control the means of communication decree it.


Hmmm... it *sounds* good to say that, but when has it ever been true that each individual has owned the means of communication in a community?

❌ Post
❌ Telephone
❌ Messenger apps

Most people see these as services. And we should fight for them to be as beat they can be for everyone.

Not sure the answer is for everyone to run the equivalent of their own postal or telephone services?

@hamishcampbell @michal @NGIZero


The only real way I can see owning the means of communication happening is through co-ownership, not by everyone having their own separate services (which is probably terrible from a climate point of view as well)

@hamishcampbell @michal @NGIZero

@dajbelshaw @aral @hamishcampbell @michal @NGIZero I'm not sure that comparison works well... nobody is suggesting that everyone runs their own internet, just as nobody should run their own postal service. But are we suggesting that it's a good idea for everyone to hire the same folk to put our thoughts on paper, stamp and envelope them? No.

The exact line at which we delineate the shared medium from the private instance is...

@dajbelshaw @aral @hamishcampbell @michal @NGIZero ... not always clear, perhaps.

Email provides a good example... SMTP doesn't really permit for mail to be cached locally until it's possible to send. It's pretty binary, send or don't. This is functionality that offers this is technically part of a local mail spool, one of several mail server functions. It's just that this has moved into mail software for easier setup.

@jens @dajbelshaw @aral @michal @NGIZero is... A good mix of individual and community that #44opens links to each other in a #KISS way, with meany approaches that share a commons. At the moment this is a tribalistic/anaco/monarchy call the #fedivers it's so far from perfect that it kinda works. Next step is messy governance so it can move on to the toddler phase and stand on its own feet.

@dajbelshaw @aral @michal @NGIZero

That the #fedivers exists and works is because it's federated client server. It would not exist with out the server part as the would be no idea of "community".

You can argue about this being a mistake, you can certainly say it does this badly, you can add P2P. But it is a "culture" made up of "community" it's were the value springs :)

@dajbelshaw @aral

Those are all utilities. All the infrastructure required to build/support utilities has always been funded by public money in all countries, if only to be leased/sold to a private player later.
The BigTech building their own infra is very recent, and if you look at the hairy details of this "centralised" system, if becomes clear that it is a myth with some countries even asking them to have local data centers if they serve more than 1m users.

@dajbelshaw @aral

A different picture emerges when one looks at "non-serviceable" areas (places where poorer communities live). The digital communication in these places is completely dependent on community ownership, small tech, Libre+

Also, centralised mammoths might find it difficult to navigate the climate crisis. Who knows!
All I know really well is that the mad rush for "scaling" is not working for the majority of people on this planet right now.

@prasoon @aral

I don't argue with any of that.

I'm talking about the *community* part of that and the assertion that you can't have a community without every individual owning the "means of communication"

@dajbelshaw @aral

I would afford some interpretive liberty for concepts like "community" and "ownership" here. Different pieces of the solution could be owned (or the expertise for it, etc.) by individuals who form the community. Not very different from how a corporate functions in that regard. Division of labour is not the enemy, exploitation of labour and consumers/communities is.

@dajbelshaw @aral

Also, growth is not bad at all. But, "scaling" sounds more like euphemism for cancer.

@dajbelshaw @aral

That is how I see the future shaping up, if we get to have one. Symbiots.
If a tech needs a giant machinery in constant need to scale, it would soon begin to resemble the evil they promise to replace.

@dajbelshaw @prasoon @aral one thing I learned from my 40 years of actavisam is that every good social movement has has some "scarcety" at its core so that people had to cooperate to work to a good outcome.

I could give you a long list....

@Aral Balkan @˗ˏˋ Doug Belshaw ˎˊ˗ 💥☠️✊: @hamish campbell @Jens Finkhäuser ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

By running a city or village or community I certainly do not mean ruling them but running the infrastructure for them. Everyone cannot do it. Grandmothers usually do not administer Kubernettes or Ceph. Ill people in hospital want to talk to their relatives and cannot log-in to their Raspberry to restart XMPP server. Babies in kindergarden usually do not know Python very well yet. Somebody has to run communication, organisation or life support infrastructures for them.

Even if it is run in democratic open society design model, decided in respect and empathy for all human agencies or cooperative consensual model, not everyone runs all their information services by themselves individually and alone. Somebody grows food, somebody plays theatre.

@michal @hamishcampbell @dajbelshaw @aral Slight detour, but maybe the issue starts with having to run k8s to provide a service.

@aral @michal @NGIZero the building blocks of humanity are always "communitys" a quick look at history's gives no room for doubting this.

But you would be right to see the last 100 years or more of a balence between "community" and individual and the last 40 years of the #deathcult as the "individual" and the desinergration of community.

@aral @michal @NGIZero Am all for "balence" so your tech project (as long as it links and is #4opens ish) has a role in the balenceing of "community" we need to push for to survive, not to mention flourishing.

We URGENTLY need to push this balence.

@hamishcampbell @aral @michal @NGIZero I think we are at a dangerous time in communications technology. What we're facing, I think, is the prospect of full centralization under some corp/gov synthesis, and the complete elimination of what was once the "open web". Data centres become the mainframes, and everything else will be a terminal into them with next to no local compute. We're not far off from that now, and it can all be justified as "efficiency".

So we need to have a diversity of ways that people can "run their own stuff", individually or as small collectives.

@bob not "efficiency": "for the children". because parents do not know how to protect children. they are computer illiterate.

@bob @NGIZero @aral

yep, I used to call that digital utopia or distopia, as you say we are well down the digital distopia stream. And the #geekproblem has no paddle, the #NGI funding feeds this problem.

We need to change direction and we need to do this fast #omn #4opens #indymediaback

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