We live in a unique time of merit: those with great technical aptitude are able to sway with great effect. Unfortunately, the learning curve to develop modern communication tools can be pretty steep and normal folk are often left to depend on commercially provided services that increasingly view the them as the product. e.g. “In Capital America, Google sell you!”

It’s About Freedom & Security

I should not have to worry about my kid forever losing his online anonymity when photos of his Bat Mitzvahs are posted. Those should only go to trusted family friends. I shouldn’t see adds for baby clothes because I gave my daughter instructions and resources about pregnancy and birth control. I shouldn’t have to worry about ever losing pictures of my baby’s first step or the video of my wedding because a startup goes out of business. My digital history should be automagically backed up across multiple providers and those providers should have no insight into my personal life.

A Maker’s Vision

My intention is to build a toolset that provides freedom and security. I propose that we build a set of free (beer & speech) tools that give back control to individuals, no matter that technical aptitude level. These would enable the script kiddies to host their own services on whatever server they have, allow the curious to build services from scratch and make it easy for normal Joe’s and Jane’s to switch commercial providers with ease, avoiding lock-in and lost data.

Target “Jane & Joe” Capabilities

  • Email
  • Blog
  • Bookmark share
  • Web pages
  • Docs, Spreadsheets, Presentations, Drawing, Painting
  • Data portability between providers

Target “Script Kiddie” Capabilities

  • Includes all of the above, plus:
  • Web-based text editor and terminal
  • Installation & migration scripts for
    • Individual servers
    • Cloud based services such as AWS and OpenStack

Target “The Curious” Capabilities

  • Includes all of the above, plus:
  • Tests and source code of the actual tool set
  • Tutorials walking through how to build the tool set from scratch

How We Start

There are some interesting projects already out there like The Egg but I haven’t see anything with this level of ambition and focus. My proposal is that we start with the simplest application, probably bookmark sharing, and use that to figure out the infrastructure and data portability questions. Once that app works, we can have a framework to start building out other tools.

If you are interested in supporting this cause, connect with me via email at “b at benWoz dot com”. This will require multiple interconnected tools across many environments. We’ll need developers and craftspeople from across the language and stack spectrum:

  • Android / iOS
  • Mac / Windows / Linux
  • Web applications
  • Web services
  • Cloud services
  • Circles of trust
  • Data portability


This is the American Way. We are bold, we are true. We stand together and we have no shame. Only without shame can we really be free to speak our deepest truths and realize the power of who we really are.

- benWoz