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Re: [] 'Alternatives Working Group' on Loomio

From: Eric Wong
Subject: Re: [] 'Alternatives Working Group' on Loomio
Date: Fri, 11 Apr 2014 07:58:08 +0000

Danyl Strype <address@hidden> wrote:
> Kia ora koutou
> Eric, I have to admit I'm a bit confused about what you are trying to
> say here, so if I end up accidentally slaughtering strawmen, please
> feel free to explain where I've I missed your point.

Sorry I confused you.  I started making one point but went off on a
tangent.  I will try to clarify inline...

> On 9 April 2014 06:15, Eric Wong <address@hidden> wrote:
> >> Hi, I'm new here but have long been interested in decentralization.  I 
> >> would be more open to discussion on mailing lists or other text-only 
> >> mediums (NNTP).  I've never been a fan of GUIs or web browsers. <<
> You seem to be saying that text = decentralized, and  GUI = centralized.

No, not at all.

> >> Lately I've been forming a theory that GUIs are harmful to our cause, 
> >> especially considering the few, powerful companies behind the major GUI 
> >> browsers.  <<
> You seem to be saying all GUI browsers are made by powerful companies.

The main browsers still depend heavily on components by those companies
(or are non-Free, even worse).  Some sites tend to be unusable without
JavaScript, and it's hard for a non-JS user to know what's missing when
much JS is obfuscated (or the user isn't a programmer).

I can elaborate more, but the big issue for me is browsers/websites have
grown enormously complicated.  The size/complexity/build-times of these
does not look inviting to part-time hackers like myself.

At the end of the day, our text communication on mailing lists like this
is perfectly fine on my 80x24 terminal.

> >> Probably better to stop playing their game and move the world towards 
> >> awareness of Free, easily-implementable data formats and protocols... <<
> You seem to be saying that GUI web browers can't or don't implement
> free formats, protocols, and standards.

No, not at all.  Browsers implement standards for _reading_ well.
However, communicating with other readers or website authors is a mess
on browsers.  Forum/blog sites mostly have different commenting
mechanisms and account systems.  The standardized ones tend to be
non-Free/centralized; the decentralized ones have little adoption.

When I participate on this (and most) mailing lists I'm on:

1) I write in my $EDITOR of choice (plain-text only)
2) my mail client generates a standardized RFC2822 message
   (with a proper In-Reply-To header so everything threads nicely)
3) mail client delivers to my SMTP server, which then sends it to
   the mailing list server via SMTP.
4) When somebody replies, the mailing list server delivers to my
   server (again via SMTP) and I can read it via IMAP (or whatever)
   on whatever mail client I choose.

If this discussion were on a website:

1) I would use a browser extension to use my $EDITOR of choice
   but that requires an window switching
2) Button/form layouts tend to be different everywhere.
   Some sites do OpenID, most don't.
   Some sites require JS, some don't.
   Some sites require CAPTCHAs, some don't.
   What was my username/password for this site again?
   Maybe: Password recovery time, back to email!
3) Fill out CAPCHA, login to whatever, give my name/email address,
   finally I get to the send button
   (if I'm lucky, I got this far without having to reach for my mouse :)
4) Wait for replies...
   Do I refresh my browser for every page I've commented on?
   Or maybe there's an Atom/RSS feed?
   Or email notification?
5) Back to the reading replies, wait, I read some of these messages
   already!  Where did we leave off?
   Likely, this site doesn't thread/nest messages properly!

There is very little standardization and it ends up being a tedious and
laborious process, with lots of memory/CPU consumed, likely some
security bugs, some (XSS) even in the website itself and beyond the
control of browsers.

> If you feel passionate about using and developing command lines tools,
> by all means, go for it. Be aware though, that GNU/Linux started out
> that way, but it's only been since more user-friendly GUIs like GNOME
> and KDE were built that is started to be used by non-geeks.

It's not just the tools, but data formats/protocols which need focus.
Text and most GUI mail clients handle this (and hundreds of other)
mailing lists fine; without burdening users with ever-changing UIs.

If people keep using GUIs, that is their prerogative and I have no right
to change that.  It is my dream to be able to coexist and communicate
with everyone, including GUI users, with only Free software/services
and without leaving my terminal.  Text-only communication should not
require a GUI.

Anyways, I am working on making mailing lists more accessible and to
encourage drive-by participants for some lists I run.  Hopefully I get
it in a usable/demo-able state soon.

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