FreedomBox at DecentralizeCamp

Nowadays there seem to be ever more conferences and other meetings related to (re-)decentralizing the Internet, which is great. This was the latest and really worth it, even though for me it meant getting up in the middle of the night to fly to Düsseldorf.

The main talks were all very inspiring.. Here are some random notes:

  • Jeremy Keith: The web has become something only professionals can do. But it’s okay to make simply/ugly sites! You think the Internet never forgets? Is that really true? Has it not forgotten its own history? The typical website has a lifetime of 90 days, and startup culture doesn’t have long-term thinking. Toxic!
  • Ali Jelveh of Protonet (great person, I had met him before): Decentralization not only on the Internet, also in space, medicine, television. Everybody should own part of the infrastructure.
  • Alex Feyerke of Hoodie: Conference name tags used to have domain names, instead of twitter handles. Facebook’s “techno-culltural hegemony”? With the invention of the airplane came the invention of the crash. With the invention of the web came the invention of online surveillance. The global hardware trend is AGAINST self-publishing (you can’t POSSE on a phone). Build infrastructure instead of services! Build protocols instead of products! Is decentralization in the mainstream yet? Will there be massive adoption? Or is this only a niche movement? But that’s important too! Support noBackend/Unhosted, offline first, one database per user.
  • Maciej Cegłowski: Decentralization not a tech issue, but a social question. Only men here!! No gender balance. Current web culture: Growth! Domination! Everybody wants to be a McDonald’s, nobody wants to be a small store. Is it still possible to work without VCs, just create something and live off the proceeds? Examples of this are dying out. Danger: Burn-out. People have high trust in certain products: “French champagne”, or “Bier nach dem Reinheitsgebot von 1302 gebraut”. Need something like this for data, i.e. a regulatory framework.

Aftere these main talks, a classic barcamp/unconference afternoon began. I met several old friends, such as Michiel, Nick, Jan, and others from the Unhosted community. I also met Christoph from the CloudFleet project again, who I had met several years earlier in the context of an online identity system.

I was very excited to get to know Tom Atkins of arkOS, which is one of the projects I had been really interested in getting to know better. In fact, at some point I even gave a session at the Internet Identity Workshop about arkOS, even though I didn’t know it well. Besides introducing arkOS and its Genesis interface, Tom also gave a great overview of a number of  personal server projects such as arkOS, FreedomBox, CloudFleet, and others. Several people including myself agreed that it would be cool to have good communication between such projects.

Of course I also ran a session about FreedomBox. The conference organizers were kind enough to quickly organize the network cable I needed :) As usual, I showed some of the main functions a FreedomBox could fulfill: Using it as a Tor router, using it as your remoteStorage, or running a website or blog on it. Once again, the merits of PageKite on a FreedomBox became obvious. I also gave a tour of the Plinth admin interface.

The people in the room were all very experienced and didn’t have a lot of questions. Afterwards, I realized they may have thought of me as speaking officially on behalf of the FreedomBox Foundation, even though I always point out that I’m just one member of this community. Sorry if there was a misunderstanding. Anyway, great event, and great dinner in the beautiful city of Düsseldorf.

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