15 November 2011

Freedombox, A Suggestion

The Freedombox is an idea who's time has come. Unfortunately, it's still just an idea.

Why is it still "just" an idea? Joshua Spodek has some thoughts. To paraphrase: it's probably because the idea isn't perfect yet (engineers are notorious for never being ready to release their work). He figures someone (or someones) needs to step up and organize an effort, no matter how poor the initial outcome might be. Once SOMETHING is out there it can be improved by feedback from actual users.
Pictured: users.

I agree that open-source projects either publish or cease to exist. OS projects just don't work until a person or a small group takes responsibility for getting results. Ideas are a great contribution, but someone has to contribute time and money too. Arguably an idea that can't attract even one person to take responsibility for it must not be a very good idea.

Freedombox is a great idea. We need to shift the momentum of the internet back to individual control.

That being the case, why hasn't the idea gotten more attention?

At the moment it catches the attention of people who 1) understand technology and 2) are not invested in using it to control people (for one reason or another). Unfortunately that means the vast majority of the world is not, and possibly WILL not, be captivated by the idea.

Getting a lot of people to use one is kind of the whole point of the freedombox concept, so failing to capture the collective imagination is pretty much total failure period. Therefore, it seems to me that a big part of getting some momentum behind the idea is getting people interested in it.

Or, failing that, latching onto something people are already interested in.
Time to get sneaky.

On average, people don't care about security. They will instantly compromise every single security precaution established if it saves them a moment's frustration. They will not "opt in." So, to get them to do secure things, you have to restructure their environment such that they must "opt out."

Rather than focusing on all the security advantages of the freedombox, emphasize its NON-security features. For example don't advertise the idea as a personal security initiative (freedom from oppression), instead advertise it as a personal cloud initiative (freedom from
cost/frustration). THEN build in all the security stuff you would have anyway. Tell people that's all there to guarantee the security of their cloud data. People love the idea of the cloud right now, and arguably a bunch of freedomboxes working together would fit under that umbrella.

The project could still be called "freedombox" and the product could still be pretty much the same as before, just change the marketing.

The strength of the idea is that it is the most "inherently" secure of all the options. When your data is on a company's servers it's under THEIR control. When your data is in your closet it's under YOUR control. In every society a person's home is considered more sacred than anywhere else. If an entity (cops or criminals) has to break into some faceless corporation to compromise you, that's one thing. When they have to go into your personal residence, that's an entirely different thing. No only is it simply physically easier to protect your dat
a when it's at home, but the government (even if it's corrupt) is far more likely to extend extra protections under the law to anything in your home.

Play up all the ways the freedombox will "free" people to go anywhere and still have access to their data. It will absolutely accomplish that goal. When people embrace that they'll also be getting all the security built into the gadget by its creators. If they want to turn that stuff off, they can. It's theirs and they can do what they want. Since it's open-source someone will probably even create a security-lite release that runs on the same hardware. Whatever. All the people grabbing up the "personal cloud" will create momentum that will help out the people who live under repressive governments.
Trickle down freedom.

Basically, attach the idea to something that's already popular and it will get a lot more support. Play up one or two features that appeal to the largest audience. That way the few people who can REALLY benefit from it will get it even though they would never have been able to create enough momentum on their own.

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