Who provides your e-mail service? Where do you post your photos? Do you download music still? When all of our data is spread amongst multiple devices between multiple locations – home, office, and mobile – then it becomes clear why on-line network services rule supreme over managing personal computers in providing synchronized capable services that don't require us to update software or hack-in fixes. The modern person's primary concern in using a computer is to get things done and stay connected with others globally in the most effective ways possible.
The shift to on-line network services, often partnered with cloud computing, requires us all to question whose cloud our data is in, what can the cloud owner do with it, and what rights are we forking over to be on cloud nine. For example, if I use Google's Gmail service, what can Google do with my e-mail data? This last summer 2008 a great example emerged when the mega-popular micro-blogging service Twitter failed regularly resulting in pop-culture fall-out with sightings of the fail whale. Open Source hero Evan Prodromou of WikiTravel-fame stepped up and realized the shortcomings of Twitter's locked approach and created Identi.ca, an Open Software Service based micro-blogging web service that both worked solidly, replicated common functionality from similar services, and allowed for others to hack on the project, or set-up their own connected site if so desired.
This presentation looks at the landscape of services like Identi.ca which are adapting the Free and Open Source Software approach to on-line network services publicly championed from the Autonomo.us blog. This is timely because the personal computing shift from the desktop to the web is a hot topic with the Gnome Online Desktop and Gnome 3.0 initiatives. However, with long development cycles, arduous community learning curves and reliance upon cranky software languages, the simple accessible nature of web application development is thriving. This presentation instigates increased development on web services that protect user autonomy by commonly using the GNU Affero GPL 3.0 software license, creating free services to replace popular non-free alternatives, and by replacing centralized services with open distributed ones when possible. This presentation emphasizes the role of the Gnome Desktop to be a lean mean on-line desktop machine and what role Chinese businesses can play in accelerating this next dynamic wave of the FLOSS movement.