The other day, I was listening to this Linux Unplugged podcast when I realized to what extent we have been locked in by the so-called “platforms” already.
Only few days ago, Google started blocking some of Amazon’s videos on Youtube only because Amazon refused to sell Nest Cams and Chromecasts on their website among other things. Similarly, if you have been following Bryan Lunduke’s Youtube channel on Linux, you may have heard him complaining about Google trying to censor his monetization of any content that relates to “Linux”.
Similarly, you may have heard stories about Twitter and Facebook too about how they sometimes actively try to censor content that doesn’t match up to their political agenda.
In all these cases, its the common individual who is made to suffer. In the good old days of 1990s, it was Microsoft who used to give a tough time to open source and libre folks using things like Internet Explorer and OEM deals to stop Linux, but these days, that role has been taken over by these platforms who are slowly trying to become walled gardens in their own rights, to which they can control access.
As the famous saying goes, “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. If we let these platforms continue their monopolies, it won’t take long for them to do more sinister things that will hamper free speech and people’s freedom. As free-thinking individuals, its our duty to find, use and support open source alternatives to these platforms. Of course, there are many open source projects who are helping us with that, all we have to do is support them in whatever way we we can. But at the very least, we can start by using these services:
Open Source Twitter Replacement
Mastodon: Mastodon is a decentralized version of Twitter. Which means that unlike Twitter (which has a single platform called Twitter.com), Mastodon is decentralized across multiple nodes, you can join any of them (or even start your own!). All nodes are federated of course, which means irrespective of which node you sign up on, you can see all the content, and connect with anybody on the Mastodon network. You can give it a try by signing up on Mastodon.social, a popular node that I’ve been using since quite a while.
Matrix: Matrix is an “open network for decentralized communication”. Though I haven’t used it personally, it seems to be a decentralized social platform along similar lines as Mastodon (Let me know in comments if you’ve used it).
A distinct advantage of decentralized platforms like Mastodon and Matrix is that there is no giant corporation to censor your free speech, or collect private data on you. The decentralized nodes are run by people like you and me, so they are like the Linux who is standing up against all the walled platforms.
Open Source Patreon Replacement
Liberapay: Liberapay is a freedom friendly implementation which can act as a replacement for Patreon, a popular platform for open source contributors to get donations from their patrons. Patreon has been behaving quite odd lately (increase in transaction fees, network problems, etc.), hence Liberapay deserves a mention as an alternative.
Dash: Dash is a crypto currency platform that might also help in switching over from Patreon. Its built along similar lines to the Bitcoin, but has two mining layers instead of one. Using the Dash platform isn’t necessarily important, the point here is that a crypto currency can be used instead of regular ways of funding for open source projects, alternatives like Bitcoin, Litecoin, etc. can also be used of course.
Open Source YouTube Replacement
Feel free to add more open platforms in comments if you know about them.