We need a multi-national, publicly funded research organization akin to CERN/within CERN, whose whole purpose is to develop a state-of-the-art browser that's not Chromium-based. Make #Google follow our lead, rather than us having to follow Google.

If the Web could be developed using public money, why not a modern browser? Public funding would remove the Mozilla problem of them having to depend on Google.

With the amount of money governments waste annually, we could fund this AND Mozilla.

There could be incentive problems here as well, of course, like governments threatening to withdraw funding in case a certain backdoor isn't included, or if it blocks ads too aggressively and some corporate-funded 'representative' starts receiving pushback from the industry etc, but which is why it would need to:

- Be funded by a wider variety of states than the Five/Nine Eyes members.

- Developed entirely in the open, each important change reviewed by a committee of experts from the public.

@MatejLach But how would you unseat Chrome at this point? Google have the incumbent advantage and the platform advantage. Technical excellence is only part of the story.

@cbowdon That's definitely going to be a challenge, but #Google did some smart marketing by having ads IRL, like in trains and such, even in smaller countries if the % of connected users was high enough.

Since it would be publicly funded, you could also install it on computers in publicly-funded educational institutions. A lot of software spreads by children installing it for their parents. If students are using it at school, they're likely to install it at home.

@MatejLach Ooh that last one is a good one. That’s what MS/Apple/Google are trying after all. You wouldn’t necessarily need CERN-like levels of funding to achieve it.

@cbowdon @MatejLach
but wouldn't you need CERN-like levels of fuding to develop a browser that keeps up with the moving target of shitty WHATWG standards?

@MatejLach @Wolf480pl @cbowdon

Also why build a state of the art shit whose shape has beed already defined by #Google instead of building something new and better?
Something following a totally different vision?

I think to pull regular users in, we'd have to start with today's web. But once we have sway in the committees, you can begin to redefine what state of the art web should look like.

@Wolf480pl @cbowdon

@MatejLach @Wolf480pl @cbowdon

I think we need a #CERN of #Informatics, but it should start from a simple vision and build what it takes to get there from the ground up.

I have a vision to propose: all people should be able to read, understand and modify each software they use or feed with their data.

Modern Web is not going to survive such vision, so building a browser is wasting money imho.

@Shamar@mastodon social It won't work. Just take some time to, say, explain recursion or graph algorithms, image compression or even cryptography math to a totally untrained user. We will never get to a point of end users to read or understand their software. IMHO, trying to do so is a waste of time that could better be spent on building more ethical solutions that just work for this crowd.
@MatejLach @Wolf480pl @cbowdon

@z428 @MatejLach @Wolf480pl @cbowdon My position is that they should be *able* to (perhaps with a little training), but not obligated to.

@alcinnz @z428 @MatejLach @Wolf480pl @cbowdon

Guys, that's just because we are at the hieroglyphs of #Informatics.

If it's difficult to explain it's because it's primitive. Let's invent the right alphabet and every kid will be able to learn programming at the primary school.

@Shamar We're at a point where some adults have issues understanding higher math, some even have real issues learning to master natural language to understand complex texts or express themselves. And we actually did invent an alphabet to help these folks: Icons. Symbols. Easy interactions. So far this works well. Will we be able to do meaningful programming on that level?
@alcinnz @MatejLach @Wolf480pl @cbowdon

@z428 @Shamar @alcinnz @MatejLach @Wolf480pl @cbowdon in simpler systems, the meaning of "meaningful programming" might be a lot different than it is in bloated corporate software. just want to get that noted.

@grainloom @z428 @alcinnz @MatejLach @Wolf480pl @cbowdon

We need to be like Moses.

We can all see how badly broken is current IT.
We can all see how much power we have (which ultimately is much much more we are fooled to think).
We call all see how hard corporations try to lock us in, layer over layer.

Can we think the promised land?
Just like ancient scribes couldn't think of a phonetic alphabet.

@grainloom @z428 @alcinnz @MatejLach @Wolf480pl @cbowdon

But we can try new roads.

We can experiment.

We can teach kids that they can reinvent the future in a different way.

Not just with our lessons but with our code and our example.

It IS possible.
Yes there's a lot of complexity to subdue, we still lack fundamental tools like Egyptians lacked the number zero.
But we need #hope to look for them! ;-)

@Shamar I think we very often fall victim to oversimplification because we have totally lost sight of how incredibly much specialized we already are - and how extremely basic and "trivial" some of the issues users are struggling with actually are. Google, Apple, ... are successful because they do better here, no matter why they do that.
@grainloom @alcinnz @MatejLach @Wolf480pl @cbowdon



They do 'better' because they, through inordinate market power accrued through tactics at least as shady as anti-competitive hiring practices, get to define what 'better' means.

@Shamar @grainloom @alcinnz @MatejLach @Wolf480pl @cbowdon

@deejoe @z428 @Shamar @alcinnz @MatejLach @Wolf480pl @cbowdon imho there were/are better systems that give users more freedom that were commercial failures because they weren't marketed properly or weren't lucrative enough for developers looking for a quick profit. Linux package managers are better than app stores, but app stores don't require you to share your source.

@deejoe @z428 @Shamar @alcinnz @MatejLach @Wolf480pl @cbowdon or look at DRM. big money and power hungry megacorps looooove DRM, but it's objectively terrible for everyone else.

@grainloom I'm always back to XMPP and WhatsApp as maybe the most crucial example of everything that possibly could have been done wrong: The "tech" and FLOSS elite fully ignoring or laughing at a new piece of technology that doesn't fit their world view. The XMPP crowd that always focussed on a technology but never cared about building a product actually working for users - 1/4

@grainloom @deejoe @Shamar @alcinnz @MatejLach @Wolf480pl @cbowdon And someone (the WhatsApp guys) coming along, ignoring both and starting over with what by today is the predominant messenger on all platforms at least in terms of user base - 2/4

@grainloom @deejoe @Shamar @alcinnz @MatejLach @Wolf480pl @cbowdon Do we care? No. It happened a dozen of times before, it will happen again, and so far we have no way to change that - 3/4

@z428 @grainloom
For me, the phrase
"building a product"
alone means something like "get rich by fooling people into buying our crap".
I don't like products.
I like tools.

@Wolf480pl For me, "building a product" means shipping something like a car, a knife, a book, something that has defined features and a defined, ensured quality and is suitable by certain people for a certain purpose, no matter whether or not money is involved.

@Wolf480pl @grainloom As far as I see things, the "product" idea is what you need to reach end users, and be that in order to explain the purpose of something.

@z428 @grainloom
Ok, but that means that:
- (assuming you're not in your target group) You need to make a piece of software that will not be useful to yourself.
- You need to understand what your target group wants. This requires understanding other people, which is exteremly hard.
- Your users will expect certain quality from your product
- You will have to support those users
- None of those users will ever become contributors

IMO this is the opposite of success.

@Wolf480pl It means that you do not *just* focus on what suits your needs but also pay attention to other people who need more or different features or easier interfaces. That's why WhatsApp is successful and XMPP isn't .

@z428 @grainloom
What makes you think WhatsApp is successful?
How many contributors does it have?

@Wolf480pl I can delete my XMPP account without much issues. I can delete WhatsApp and be sure to cut digital contact with about 80% of my contact list, including quite a couple of folks who don't even know or use e-mail or SMS. User base is quite an important aspect for a communication channel.

@z428 @grainloom
Ok, but it's not users that make a FOSS project sustainable. It's contributors.

So for a communication channel it is important to have a lot of users, but it is not possible for a FOSS projects to have much more users than contributors.

@z428 @grainloom
Or maybe I should say:
It's not possible to increase the number of users without first increasing the number of contributors.

@Wolf480pl How sustainable is spending effort on a tool that doesn't make a difference to anyone? How sustainable is building 100 XMPP clients that all look like 1990s ICQ while people move to Slack or WhatsApp?

@z428 @grainloom
It's sustainable if I build a tool that I need myself and that I use on a daily basis.

@z428 @grainloom
OTOH, if I do tech support and fix bugs for 100 of users that use my tool but don't understand how it works, and nobody pays me for it, that's not sustainable.

@Wolf480pl It's sustainable, as well, if I buy a piece of software that suits my needs and pay people to make sure they can make a living off maintaining this piece of software for me. From that point of view, I don't even see the *need* for FLOSS as a non-developer. 😉

@z428 @grainloom
And this is why non-developers don't use FLOSS.

@Wolf480pl Right. And that's why we need an approach to make FLOSS funding sustainable to end-users and developers.

@deejoe No. They *do* better because they made technology available to users in a way "accessible" to these. They do things such as thinking about "target groups" or user personas and actual requirements in term of usability as well. They do that for profit, and of course they use marketing for that, but in the end WhatsApp, Google, Facebook *did* make technology accessible to people who never used a computer before - 1/4

@deejoe @Shamar @grainloom @alcinnz @MatejLach @Wolf480pl @cbowdon We can try to ignore this or argue it away but the amount of people using these channels and tools (both because they are easy and/or because they aren't able to use any other tools) possibly will not care - 2/4

@deejoe @Shamar @grainloom @alcinnz @MatejLach @Wolf480pl @cbowdon "Better", to them, is not what marketing sells them. Better, to them, is what works for them - 3/4


it's a cycle, of course: They can do usability work with the ill-gotten gains from vertical lock-in & other anti-competitive shenanigans.

@Shamar @grainloom @alcinnz @MatejLach @Wolf480pl @cbowdon


on the one hand we have people who want to eliminate the 'normal' user by making them all programmers

on the other, those who want to 'fight for the user' on a battlefield of their opponents choosing

@Shamar @grainloom @alcinnz @MatejLach @Wolf480pl @cbowdon

@deejoe @z428 @grainloom @alcinnz @MatejLach @Wolf480pl @cbowdon

Uhm... just to be clear: I don’t want to eliminate users but to free them from the people who use them through the software.

When most people will be programmers, it will much easier to build usable free software for those who aren't because most (all?) software will be free.

The problem is that it's a race.

@deejoe @z428 @grainloom @alcinnz @MatejLach @Wolf480pl @cbowdon

I think it's very evident that we cannot compete with corporations paying thousands of developers (and fooling even more to work for free "because fOSS") on building successful applications because they decide what successful applications must look like.
They WANT us to waste our energy trying!
So they can hire and subdue us.

@Shamar @deejoe @z428 @grainloom @alcinnz @MatejLach @cbowdon
I think one example of how corpos defined what "successful" means, is when Apple started making smartphones with touchscreens w/o physical keyboards, and everyone else followed suit.

@Wolf480pl @deejoe @z428 @grainloom @alcinnz @MatejLach @cbowdon

Browsers are even better examples.

They (aka #Google) literally decide what a standard browser must look like, very aware that only them (and few friends that depends economically on their money) can try to build one.

@deejoe @z428 @grainloom @alcinnz @MatejLach @Wolf480pl @cbowdon

So we need to be smarter and spread what they fear most: #knowledge.

It's not Knowledge that is power but Ignorance that is weakness. By empowering people we subtract them users, data, revenues... we shrink their market and make their product useless or even annoying: "WHAT? why I can't change this code? Refund me now!"

@Shamar This will fail. People never will have enough knowledge to compete with Google or Apple either. We shouldn't forget it's not just about marketing - they actually *do* have a bunch of very skilled people in their teams, way more skilled than average programmers or even an end user trying to write code.

@deejoe @grainloom @alcinnz @MatejLach @Wolf480pl @cbowdon

@z428 @deejoe @grainloom @alcinnz @MatejLach @cbowdon

I think what @Shamar is trying to do is to change peoples' expecations so that their requirements are incompatible with Google's and Apple's business model.

@Wolf480pl That won't work however because the difference between his approach and Google/Apple is that Google/Apple are way closer to peoples actual individual requirements. We should learn to respect those if we don't want people to ignore us.
@deejoe @grainloom @alcinnz @MatejLach @cbowdon @Shamar

@deejoe @z428 @grainloom @alcinnz @MatejLach @Wolf480pl @cbowdon

Oh... didn’t know...

Is Windows free? Office? Autocad?
And by refund I also mean a data refund: give me back all data you got from me and recompute all models you built with such data.

@Shamar You will never get a tool on par with AutoCAD entirely built by a "free" community. Not as long as people have to pay bills. For a whole bunch of reasons, starting with those tools being utterly complex in any way and tools for users highly specialized in "not programming".

@deejoe @grainloom @alcinnz @MatejLach @Wolf480pl @cbowdon


> When most people will be programmers

if you take the expansive view *most* users are already programmers, just too high up the stack to make much difference in the pile of dependencies on which they continually teeter

@z428 @grainloom @alcinnz @MatejLach @Wolf480pl @cbowdon

@deejoe @z428 @grainloom @alcinnz @MatejLach @Wolf480pl @cbowdon

Indeed I usually say "hackers", not just programmers.

However I don’t care much about the future of Google, if they will go out of business or not.

I care about the people that will be freed from them.

@Shamar Pretty interesting however, is that early Google freed a lot of internet users from flaky, incomplete and painful web searches and became the defacto search engine even within the FLOSS community for very long. Why Google? Why not something open or decentralized? 😉
@deejoe @grainloom @alcinnz @MatejLach @Wolf480pl @cbowdon

Sign in to participate in the conversation
Mastodon @ SDF

"I appreciate SDF but it's a general-purpose server and the name doesn't make it obvious that it's about art." - Eugen Rochko