Proprietary services or free desktop software?

Actually that question is more of a flame bait or a non-starter for a real discussion. I would answer it by choosing a third option, freedom cloud service. Read on to find more about it.

There are some people, RMS for example, who say that freedom minded individuals should avoid using proprietary services. I’m not going to defend proprietary, but if we think that people are going to give up on proprietary services, and go back to the desktop, as the only alternative, we are fooling ourselves. Once people have discovered network services and the collaboration that can be done with it, they are never going back to the desktop and working offline. Working on the desktop is like taking notes while watching TV: nobody is ever going to know about it and people work to make themselves known! The people’s short term need is to communicate with others, and, even if on the long term that means they give up their freedom, short term needs always prevail. Short term communication will always win against long-term freedom. A service will always win against a piece of software.

No doubt, on the long term, if we do not build freedom services that are consistently better than their proprietary counterpart, proprietary service maintainers can insert proprietary plugins both on the client side. We are going to lose the progress we have achieved on the free desktop software and people’s data will be just as locked in as with the old proprietary software.

We need not to advocate for going back to the desktop free software, because that is a losing battle, we need to build freedom services that fill the communication gap between people better than the proprietary do. We need a process to help us design and maintain a freedom service consistently better than we currently do.

I agree ‘cloud computing’ is a trap, I disagree on the way out of it. I say we should build an alternative freedom service cloud. I will cover how to build such a freedom service and problems associated with it in a later post.


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