Linked by Perry Helion on Fri 15th Mar 2013 18:20 UTC
Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu Ubuntu has come under a decent amount of flack over the past few months, particularly over their decision to use the 'Dash Search' to return results from Amazon by default in their most recent release.
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RE: Picking sides...
by hhas on Sun 17th Mar 2013 22:28 UTC in reply to "Picking sides..."
hhas
Member since:
2006-11-28

Downvoting for the lulz... nah, just kidding.

But yours is a key point: if FOSS/Linux truly wants to 'free' people, it is not enough to scold them: "Stop doing that!" Instead, it must figure out how to enable users to achieve their desired goals, while also providing better levels of personal control, privacy and trust than current non-Free products such as those you describe.

Take PGP, for instance: great tool, but the average person never uses it, even for sensitive communications, because the user experience is just lousy. But if the FOSS folk were to figure out how to make ubiquitous PGP "just work" in email communications - i.e. without the user having to think about it (or even know what it is) - and suddenly they've got a potential game-changer. Google isn't likely to make users' emails unreadable by its bots - it's hardly in its own self-interest - but FOSS is not bound by the same limitations as Google is.

Heck, while you're at it, why not simply eliminate email altogether? There's nothing about email-based communication that couldn't be better done by sharing editable documents over local and/or internet-wide clouds, crypting their contents outside of trusted scopes, automatically replicating changes as they're made, preserving full discussion history and making it instantly accessible without the need for repetitive re-quoting, allowing additional users to be brought into the discussion at any point, allowing free hyperlinking between discussions and to other internet resources, and so on.

That's the sort of innovatory HCI work FOSS could, and should(!), be doing. Yet, they'd rather putter out yet another bloody Win95-style DE for the hundredth time that simply reheats worn-out, decades-old concepts lifted from Xerox, and all to the utter indifference of the entire planet (save a handful of idle hobbyists who'd rather kvetch about Canonical's ethical faults than build a better world for all).

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: Picking sides...
by Alfman on Mon 18th Mar 2013 03:55 in reply to "RE: Picking sides..."
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

hhas,

"Take PGP, for instance: great tool, but the average person never uses it, even for sensitive communications, because the user experience is just lousy. But if the FOSS folk were to figure out how to make ubiquitous PGP 'just work' in email communications - i.e. without the user having to think about it (or even know what it is) - and suddenly they've got a potential game-changer."


It's not a technology problem, or a FOSS problem, it's a chicken and egg problem. Any developer possessing cryptographic skills (including yours truly) could single-handedly re-implement email with fully transparent public key end to end encryption. The problem is getting universal adoption.

Look at SPF records, designed to detect and block smtp domain spoofing.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sender_Policy_Framework

They'd be effective if they would only be adopted, but therein lies the chicken and egg problem again. It's ineffective, but *only* because so few are using it. I can't even use it for my own domains because my registrar doesn't allow me to control SPF records - in fact most don't either.


Another example is ipv6, in theory moving would solve a lot of problems. But it's pretty lonely in there unless you tunnel back into ipv4 space. It's another chicken and egg problem.


"That's the sort of innovatory HCI work FOSS could, and should(!), be doing. Yet, they'd rather putter out yet another bloody Win95-style DE for the hundredth time that simply reheats worn-out, decades-old concepts lifted from Xerox, and all to the utter indifference of the entire planet"

Various projects are not mutually exclusive to each other, some devs prefer working on DE, others can work on distributed file systems, etc. For every single DE developer, there must be thousands more already working on other problems. Use the DE you like best and you can ignore the rest, why can't that be a win?

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[3]: Picking sides...
by hhas on Mon 18th Mar 2013 12:28 in reply to "RE[2]: Picking sides..."
hhas Member since:
2006-11-28

The problem is getting universal adoption.


Oh, I totally agree - it's often much easier to create a completely new, disruptive technology and get people to jump on that than make them accept non-trivial changes to an existing one. A classic example: look at what happened when Apple finally acknowledged it had lost the PC war, and instead set about massively redefining what "personal computing" actually meant. Much as Apple won by selling people a slightly better telephony solution, then waiting for the penny to drop as users start asking themselves "Hmm, wonder what more I could use this for?"

This is why I also suggested figuring out how to get the cloud to work right, because that would then eliminate the need to "fix" existing email or build a new ground-up architecture to replace it. Since ordinary operations on shared documents (read, write, share, notify, etc) could do everything that email can do, plus a whole lot more (trust, security, robust history, etc), why not put all your energies into ironing out that system and ensuring it achieves its full potential?

Users are already using the current [ill-defined, shlonky] cloud for basic non-sharing tasks (e.g. backing up personal files). So it's just be a matter of time before they naturally slide into sharing activities too: making photos available to family and friends, popping up a document tagged for attention of someone else on their contact list saying "what do you think?" and getting a notification back when the other person's annotated it with their thoughts, and so on. The trick is make the whole experience polished and seamless, so that it's quicker and less painful for folks to start working this way for everything than continue with the gnarly old ways (emails, chat, Word attachments, etc).

Once the network effect takes hold, you're well on your way to superseding the entire email architecture without any need to build a completely new technology, since all the relevant operations can be expressed as ordinary cloud interactions. Put your feet up and relax as traditional email usage eventually fades away. Result: not only have you gotten users onto a much better system, you've actually managed to consolidate and simplify[1] a decent chunk of the whole damn internet as well. ;)

And that's the sort of crafty lateral thinking that the FOSS world could do wonders with, if only they had a bit more of vision and boldness. Cheers.

...

[1] Not directly related, but always my favorite story on simplification: http://folklore.org/StoryView.py?story=Negative_2000_Lines_Of_Code....

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: Picking sides...
by zima on Tue 19th Mar 2013 18:12 in reply to "RE: Picking sides..."
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Google Wave was doing something similar to your envisioned email successor ...didn't really work, didn't really go anywhere.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[3]: Picking sides...
by Alfman on Tue 19th Mar 2013 19:11 in reply to "RE[2]: Picking sides..."
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

zima,

I was thinking of that too. For better or worse, SMTP is entrenched everywhere. Replacing it universally would require coordination across hundreds of thousands of organizations, not even google could do it alone. Realistically it would need the cooperation of microsoft and apple too, and I'm not sure how keen they'd all be working together.

Reply Parent Score: 2