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[] pumped

From: Mike Linksvayer
Subject: [] pumped
Date: Thu, 11 Jul 2013 18:13:28 -0700

I posted below to the blog, but there seems to be a
caching issue so nobody can see it. But it's probably more fun to
discuss here anyway.


As of yesterday (2013-07-10) is running
[]( Congratulations to
Try out [on another site run by Evan](
( isn't accepting new registrations) or [install on your
own]( Report
[issues](, send [pull

I created a replacement
[autonomous microblog group]( on
another public StatusNet server, at least until supports
[groups]( and feeds.

are several trend-ish things that are topical here, highlighted as
differences between StatusNet and

**Software license**

StatusNet was licensed AGPL (strongest copyleft), Apache 2.0
(modern permissive) under the rationale that needs to gain the
widest possible adoption, in competition with legacy silos. The
[Franklin Street
encourages developers to:

> Use the GNU Affero GPL, a license designed specifically for network
> service software, to ensure that users of services have the ability to
> examine the source or implement their own service.

But, considering network effects, this is not strategic for some kinds
of software, as the FSF's [guide to choosing a
license]( has
long said:

> The second [case where copyleft is not appropriate] is projects that
> implement free standards that are competing against proprietary
> standards, such as Ogg Vorbis (which competes against MP3 audio) and
> WebM (which competes against MPEG-4 video). For these projects,
> widespread use of the code is vital for advancing the cause of free
> software, and does more good than a copyleft on the project's code
> would do. In these special situations where copyleft is not
> appropriate, we recommend the Apache License 2.0. This is a
> permissive, non-protective software license that has terms to prevent
> contributors and distributors from suing for patent infringement. This
> doesn't make the software immune to threats from patents, but it does
> prevent patent holders from setting up a “bait and switch” where they
> release the software under free terms, but require recipients to agree
> to royalties or other nonfree terms in a patent license.

Will anyone write [applications on top of](, or that
implement its API, licensed AGPL? GNU MediaGolin, an AGPL'd media
sharing web application, is rumored to have someone working on the
latter. There are probably two "trends" of note here. First, among the
people explicitly thinking of free-as-in-freedom network services,
there's probably a greater appreciation of the challenge of network
effects than there was several years ago. Or as I've been saying the
last couple, "the greatest threat [to freedom] is obscurity, not
proprietary versions" (cf "the greatest threat to artists is obscurity,
not piracy", when "we" are giving unsolicited advice to legacy culture
industries). Second, and much more widely noted, is the preference of
(supposedly young, but I'm doubtful) web developers for permissive
licenses. If true, this would make a permissive license all the more
necessary to establish a standard, and hopefully contribute to
non-obscurity among developers.

**Content license**

All posts on while it was running StatusNet were released under CC-BY.
There is no default license for posts on now, ie "all
restrictions remain". The rationale for this is that supports
messages limited to groups ( only supported public, and
one-recipient direct messages, though the latter weren't regularly
used), and a public license would not be appropriate for private
messages. I say the two are orthogonal, and it is too bad to see them
conflated, but admittedly it is very easy to do, maybe easier than
explaining the difference. The Franklin Street Statement avoids the
issue with:

> Data available to all users of the service should be available under
> terms approved for Free Cultural Works or Open Knowledge.

Arguably this does not facilitate taking all one's interactions with
one. But "social" may be a field in which we should act as if knowing
about copyright is already [like knowing about East German
ie ignore all copyright and related restrictions (while adhering to
orthogonal privacy norms and regulations).

**Development hosting**

StatusNet used the hosted version gitorious, which is free software, uses the hosted (only?) version of github, which is not. In this
case, developers are users, and the Franklin Street Statement says:

> When deciding whether to use a network service, look for services that
> follow the guidelines listed above, so that, when necessary, they
> still have the freedom to modify or replicate the service without
> losing their own data.

This highlights

1.  the power of network effects even when the "protocol" (git) is
2.  longstanding complaints about the UX of FLOSS,
3.  paucity of completely distributed end user applications (again think
    of git as a "protocol" here); in theory bugs should live in git, and
    there are experiments along those lines, but for now people love
    github's centralized issue tracker, and there are many analogues to
    this situation, and
4.  paucity of competitive free software services (which at this point
    may require a
    organization to provide, in tension with the next point).

**Your own computer**

Before the above quote about what kind of services
to look for, the Franklin Street Statement says not to use services:

> Consider carefully whether to use software on someone else’s computer
> at all. Where it is possible, they should use Free Software
> equivalents that run on their own computer. Services may have
> substantial benefits, but they represent a loss of control for users
> and introduce several problems of freedom.

It also says:

> Develop software that can replace centralized services and data
> storage with distributed software and data deployment, giving control
> back to users. is pushing both of these, relative to StatusNet:

1.  Federation works differently, and better, in my limited experience
    so far
2.  Evan is doing his part to prevent a dominant instance of
    (not allowing new registrations on, and providing several
3. is leaner in multiple respects, making it more feasible to
    deploy and manage on a tiny server
4.  Evan is apparently looking to promote lots of tiny
    installations with a crowdfunded hardware project

I think services running on other people's computers are going to be
extremely important for a long time, but anything that makes it more
feasible for many more people to control their own hardware directly is

**The Beginning**

Of a [bright
I'm excited about, and hope you are too. Try it out -- and check
out other [federated social web

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