It’s funny to see open source and tech geeks discussing’s “People don’t want to run their own servers” and claiming that he “doesn’t get it.” It shows nicely everything that’s wrong with this bubble. No, he actually gets it, and you still don’t.

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And I’m saying this as someone who runs their own web and email server. Because my skills are barely enough that this time investment sort of pays off. But for 99% of all people it doesn’t and never will. They don’t care about ideology. Heck, most don’t even care about privacy.

I love open source but much of it is blindsided by only catering for people like yourself. There is nothing wrong with it but it’s also a reason why open source remains a niche. And companies are successful taking open source projects and tweaking them for the general population.

@WPalant would you say that, e.g. what Aral is trying to do with his 100% invisible small-web project also is in the bubble?
Do you mean there's no way we can make tools were you spin up something on a server without even realizing it? (sure you'd still need to pay for the server, but apart from that)

@silmathoron It isn’t the first project of this kind, I remember Opera’s in particular. I don’t know what they plan to do differently (in fact, it’s the first time I’ve heard about it at all), but usually these projects are doomed from the beginning. They fail to gain any significant adoption to be relevant.

@WPalant On the other hand, there is nothing stopping the open source community from building open hardware and open software platforms that you would only need to plug in in your home network for them to serve your content. That would still be self-hosting, without the hassle of actually administering the thing. People don't want to run their own servers, but I believe that it should not stop people from self-hosting.

@x_cli There is absolutely nothing wrong with self-hosting, and it should certainly be possible and extremely easy/cheap. It merely won’t change the fact that most people will never do it no matter how easy you make it for them. Because letting someone else do it will always be easier, and more reliable, and more secure (if they even care about that).

@WPalant I hope/believe people will start to feel more and more the constraints of platforms. For instance, Youtubers keep complaining about Youtube policy. People leave Facebook or Twitter, because of their content policies or their soft bans. Sure, today they think about going to other platforms until these new platforms also screw them over. Maybe people will then learn that platforms are the issue... And if there is good/easy/cheap alternatives, maybe they will be considered? I hope so :/

@x_cli There are so many scandals around Facebook, it even reached mainstream media on a number of occasions. How many people do you know who aren’t part of the tech bubble and decided to leave Facebook? Or WhatsApp maybe?

My wife and me have been talking to people about Signal for a while. Most didn’t even try installing it. Convenience is usually all that matters. Policies, privacy, censorship, government control – far too abstract, irrelevant.

@WPalant Actually leaving a platform is very difficult, because you are also leaving behind your social network. But posting your new content on another preferred platform while keeping your old platform account: that I have seen a lot and from non-tech people.

For instance, I migrated a full company (tech and non tech) away from Whatsapp and Signal over to Matrix along with my whole family.

But I have a lot of activists (for various causes) in my circles. I suppose this helps.

@x_cli @WPalant i think that we have a speed of light kind of a problem here: data storage and networking are complicated and there's no way to fully automate them away. especially if you take youtube as an example, what are the alternatives?

@x_cli @WPalant you could trust a peertube instance admin to keep their instance up. but if it isn't a friend of yours, there're no guarantees. people get tired of doing that work for free and rarely care enough to find a successor. if youtube is your job, you'd definitely want something more reliable.

@x_cli @WPalant if you decide to do it yourself, you need a lot of knowledge. not because of how software works, but computing in general. you need to configure backups, which is already a non-trivial task. you need to make sure your hardware and internet connection are good enough. it's just a lot. and then if you care about ecology, google is carbon neutral, and your home server is a huge waste of resources.

@x_cli @WPalant besides, if you're a regular user not particularly interested in computing, why would you trust whoever contributed to the open-source software more than google? google you can at least sue if something goes wrong enough. and there're fewer things that can go wrong with it, as you don't have to give it access to your home network or vps instance registered to your legal name.

@17 I really, really, really don't buy the green washing argument. I can self-host on a solar panel and a backup on mains. And I do not need any cooling infrastructure that any DC requires.

And as an individual not living off my lightweight publications, I have a very limited audience, and as such, I do not weight much on my ISP network.

@x_cli yes, because most the time you wouldn't be using even 50% of your hardware's resources. manufacture of which (along with the solar panel) is maybe more co2-expensive than all the energy you'll use for that. plus hardware upgrades, etc.


Or maybe I just size my hosting infrastructure correctly.

Or maybe I just host my friends and family on a rPi to mutualize resources.

At any rate, if you are trying to argue that relying on huge platforms is eco-friendly, you are gonna need a lot of publications to convince anyone. Anyone.

@x_cli not trying to convince anyone, just saying that it is 🙃 especially not trying to dispute the implication that my claim is absurd, there's no fun in that.

i don't care about the planet, but a lot of fedi seems to. so unless it's performative, those who do will do their own research.

@17 If your job is creating videos, then you don't "trust a peertube instance admin". You sign a contract with them and you pay them for it. That is certainly not an argument against decentralized hosting.

@x_cli yeah, except you want them to be a legal entity, preferably hosting as big of an instance as possible. because chances are those kinds will be more stable and take the least research effort to pick. which, google talk used to be an xmpp instance, and gmail used to be just one of the mail servers.

There is still much room in between self-hosting and a central, commercial, closed source entity running your service. Many non-tech people still would put more trust in smaller, de-centralized entities like national/regional/local government, communities or social services.
They rely on the same openness and interoperability moxie denies, while not needing everyone to be a tech-wizard.


@Chaos_99 @WPalant Correct. In France, we have, for instance, the collective CHATONS which is composed of individuals and associations offering hosting services for people seeking transparent, open, neutral and solidary alternatives to the "big platforms".

@Chaos_99 That’s beyond the point. There is a centralization tendency on the web, and there are strategies to counteract that tendency. But “let the people run their own servers” isn’t one of them. @x_cli

@WPalant @x_cli I don't see how this is a differemt point. Maybe we can rephrase and replace the "their own" with "on alternative", but looking from the tech site, this comes down to the same requirements.

@Chaos_99 I’m not sure whether you are aware of the context here:

Given this context, it’s a massive difference whether we expect everyone to run their own server (unrealistic) or whether we merely want to make sure everyone has a choice of who they want to trust (far more realistic but still suboptimal if the promise was to get rid of such trust anchors).


I am aware, but his arguments are the same since several years.
"Trust" is not the only issue here, it's "control". Even if I don't have to trust the signal servers, they are still in control about if and how I can use the service as well as what they change in their implementation.
He is right that nobody wants to host their own servers.
But still some see it as important enough to do it nevertheless.
That is an argument to make it easier to host, not one to completely dismissed the need for it.

Moxie sees an open protocol as slowing down innovation, and that people would not accept that.
But they happily accept missing features in closed source systems like WhatsApp or Signal for years, because they don't have an alternative.
An ironically good example is that Moxie once used a takedown notice to remove one of his own talks from YouTube which he did not want to be available in recording, but people could still watch it on PeerTube because not one instance had the power to take it down.

@seb @WPalant @galaxis Same trap as Moxie, though. Some people would do it. More people would do it. But not "People would do it" :)

@WPalant I don't know. How many people have a Wifi router that has a file/print server built in? Many have DDNS and VPN servers, too. A simple wizard letting people turn on the server features they want is pretty great! Getting OpenVPN working on my latest router was crazy easy like that.

@adam How many people have ever touched the configuration of their Wifi router? Yes, they are powerful beasts these days. But every feature beyond the very basic functionality is massively underused. It’s not a coincidence that internet providers want their routers to autoconfigure – plug them in and they just work.

@WPalant Ah, that's true. I do know alot of normal people who want more control though. And literally every wifi router has a web server in it (that's how you configure it).

@WPalant People also don't want to follow politics, decide who to vote for, go vote, participate etc. Hence dictatorship is the way to go because that's what people want. Dictators get it an you still don't.
Maybe, just maybe, both can be true at the same time? People preffer accessible tech and to "maximize" their freedoms.
Benevolent dictator Moxie is arguably not the ideal way to go. Making it easy for people to make their own choices is what we all should strive for.

@ondra Let’s talk again once the benefits and inner workings of the distributed web are taught in school. With at least the same number of hours that democracy gets. 🙃

@WPalant I really believe it's time for people to realise that #tech IS #politics. Same principles that apply to #democracy are applicable to #technology. The true long-term solution is education of the general public, not the easy way of blindly trusting centralized authorities promising to do slightly better.
In that sense I agree that Moxie really "doesn't get it". Mostly, he's just defending his design choices thru the lens of his confict of interest.

@ondra You yourself brought the perfect counterargument to that. Democratic countries put massive effort into educating the population. In addition, a number of control instances have been designed specifically to guard against a majority that will willingly hand the power to a dictator. And yet we’ve seen several democracies struggle or fail in recent years alone. Any concepts relying on people doing the “right” thing are fragile to impossible.

@WPalant Agree. It's a hard, never-ending struggle. But it's an ideal to strive for. No easy solutions, as usual. :)

Though still preferable to: "People don't know better so we might as well make some money out of it."?

@ondra I’d go with the more realistic “use regulation, financial incentives and whatever other measure works to keep competition alive, making sure there is a number of usable competing solutions including open source ones.” Not as ideal, but I just don’t see anyone put anywhere close to the amount of effort into a decentralized web as in democracies.

@WPalant Yeah, in reality those 2 visions mostly converge. As in democracy, regulation, competition and incentives are all part of the system.

It's not just a decentralized web, though. Money, cars (infotainment, V2G, autonomous taxi services), VR, AI, surveillance... We see the tech=politics everywhere and it's only accelerating. There might not be any democracy left if people won't realize soon that they are actually voting for Facebooks and Apples of the world to govern their lives.

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