[nSLUG] Data sharing BOF

Johann Tienhaara jtienhaara at yahoo.com
Fri May 30 12:41:51 ADT 2014

Oh man.  I wish I could be there.  (Can't, have ball hockey.)

Peer-to-peer data sharing has been a philosophical and, to some extent, hobby obsession of mine for almost a decade.  It all started when my father made the off-handed comment: "Webserver hardware is always obsolete.  People's desktops are far more powerful.  Why don't we software developers leverage the power of people's personal computers more?"

Since that time, some interesting ideas have popped up along similar veins (such as Jaron Lanier's book _Who Owns the Future_).  And software development has become increasingly silo'ed.  Monolithic web systems grow bigger and do more (GoogleDocs, SharePoint and Office365, Facebook).  Individuals and small businesses all happily plunk their data in "The Cloud", and pay big companies for the convenience, rather than big companies paying the small guys to mine their data.

Even Halifax Transit used Google Maps to update their archaic scheduling system.  I'm also part of the "Solar City" program (the city helps you fund a solar panel), and yesterday they asked Solar City customers if we would be willing to share data about ourselves -- by adding addresses to Google Maps.  So much for "Open Data".

The time is ripe for us geeks to band together and start presenting viable peer-to-peer data sharing mechanisms.  Many geeks seems to be upset about the privacy, data ownership, and security which users gladly and freely hand over to big companies.  Why is it we haven't done something about it?  The IT industry feels a bit like the antithesis of the Music industry 15 years ago -- when it wanted to crush peer-to-peer technology, it did absolutely nothing about it, relying instead on complaining and lawsuits.

We should do something about it!

$0.02 and hope it's an engaging BOF,


Date: Fri, 30 May 2014 06:54:47 -0300
From: Ben Armstrong <synrg at sanctuary.nslug.ns.ca>
To: Nova Scotia Linux User Group <nslug at nslug.ns.ca>
Subject: Re: [nSLUG] nSLUG  Meeting on Monday

The idea here is that personal improvement by open source software (not
just for Linux, but also Android and other platforms) allows us to set
our own goals, track them, and help each other in their own tracking
regimes by sharing our data and observations with friends online.
Unfortunately, the popular software that fills this niche today seems to
work by submitting your data to a web site with a (sadly, fairly
standard) privacy policy that both provides no guarantee as to the
privacy of your data, and also claims ownership of the data you submit.
On and off for months I've had some ideas to address this on the back
burner, and recently I've started doing some tracking of my own with a
non-free app using this kind of website. I'd like to stimulate
discussion about how we, as a LUG, could help improve things in this
area, whether it is by raising awareness of and lending our support to
existing projects, or coming up with something on our own.

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