Why you should control your own digital infrastructure

By » Tue, August 14 2012
46693067 d17cfa768f 450x337 Why you should control your own digital infrastructure

I bet this is what Gmail really looks like. (img by glacial23)

Wiki inventor Ward Cunningham cuts right to the heart of something that’s been bugging me for a while:

“If people don’t control their own infrastructure, they get needy,” he says. They’re at the mercy of service providers who can disappear, impose rules that constrain creativity and/or make it difficult to backup content that you’ve created. “It’s good to simplify things, but they shouldn’t be simplified in such a way as to make the user helpless.”

I use Google for everything. My browser is Chrome, my many email accounts are Gmail, my docs live in GDrive. What can I do if something goes wrong? Say Google changes their privacy policy to something that feels a little more evil. Or Facebook pushes through some change to their interface that I don’t like. Or my mobile phone carrier starts using my whereabouts to market at me?

Can I take my data and run? Theoretically. But to where? Most of us, even those born before computers did everything seamlessly for us, don’t know. I’m a fairly smart guy, and I’ve done my share tinkering with computers, but I’m still helpless.

Cunningham’s come up with a solution to his particular problem (a centralized wiki): he’s gone on to launch the federated wiki, naturally hosted on github, a federated version control system that I still don’t quite understand. His solution requires that you have your own webserver. Which tweaked my “too complicated” default response until I thought about it for a second.

The “consumer/customer” mindset and habit is really hard to break. I don’t want to jailbreak/root my phone. I don’t want to have to run my own email server. That shit’s a lot of work. But more and more, I’m thinking it’s smart work.

Stay tuned. I’m going to have to change some habits, learn some stuff, translate documentation into human-readable forms, and keep you posted on how things go.

Related: Popular:

Do, Features, Know

Login