Armchair Scientist Blog Thoughts on an open internet (and IRC!)

Posts tagged with 'evangelism'


Over the past year or so I've seen comments decrying nonsense buzzwords for job titles like 'evangelist', 'guru', 'rockstar' etc. While I certainly agree that some of the titles I've seen are just awful, I've realised recently that I really do consider myself an evangelist (or an advocate) and I'd like to defend that title a little.

I've been aware of the job title 'advocate' for more than a decade - a friend of mine, Scott MacVicar, left Glasgow to move to the US and become an 'Open source advocate' - I thought that job title was a big step forward - I want nothing more than FOSS to be adopted and encouraged. Evangelist is basically the same thing, although I suppose it does have connotations with religion.

Anyway, it's literally a decade on and although open source software has developed tremendously I feel the very nature of the net has degraded to a point where seeing a recent joke post made me tremendously depressed (that's a strong word - is there an emotion somewhere between sad/upset and disappointed?):

I remember when the internet wasn't just five websites with screenshots of the others

That said, I feel like now more than ever is the best time to take the internet back to what it could be. People are being made aware how valuable their data is and it's up to us, the geeks, to show them how they can use the net and not be beholden to large companies that don't have their best interests at heart.

For me, this means bringing back older services that were designed to be robust, decentralised and federated.

The biggest challenge I face isn't technical, it's getting people to understand why it's important, how it affects them and how to take the first step in freeing themselves and their data.

I need to evangelise!

  • Step 0 Identify open source protocols or software to replace third party companies
Product/service Open alternative
Chatting/group communication IRC, Matrix
Forums/bulletin boards Newsgroups, NNTP
Search engines Gopher, Federated Bookmarks
Blogging Mastodon, GNU social
  • Step 1 Make sure we have decent web and mobile interfaces for all of these. People don't expect to install software any more, and they shouldn't have to. Many web clients already exist, some could do with improvement, some are almost non-existent.

  • Step 2 ???

  • Step 3 Profit! I'm not against companies making profit for a service well rendered. I'd just like to also have an option of self-hosting, or making the service non-proprietary. For example, with IRC, you could download a web interface like Kiwi or The Lounge, install it on your own server, and use it to connect to IRC. The alternative is: a company sets up a Kiwi instance and you pay a monthly fee for that and use it to connect to IRC. The important distinction is that you always have options - the choice to move to a new provider, or set up your own.

What now?

Take a look at the following:

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