[Freedombox-discuss] PeerPoint - an integral application package for FreedomBoxes

Poor Richard poor.ricardo at gmail.com
Tue May 29 21:32:46 UTC 2012

I'm not subscribed to the list right now, but I'm hoping this will still
post. My reason for posting it is not to ask busy freedombox developers to
take on more work at this time (first things first!) but to let those on
the list know what I'm thinking as next step after freedombox is deployed.
What I describe as "PeerPoint" could be an all-in-one application package
to run on freedomboxes. Note that I included links to freedombox and made
an appeal for readers to send you (not me) some money! For now any interest
in PeerPoint can be directed as a comment to

PeerPoint <http://almanac2010.wordpress.com/2012/05/28/peerpoint/> May 28,
2012 — Poor Richard<http://almanac2010.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=3589&action=edit>
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:P2P-network.svg>PeerPoint = Peer-to-Peer

[This is a back-of-the-envelope first draft of top-level design

PeerPoint is intended to be much more than a user-owned social networking
platform. It is imagined as a modular,
application suite, developer’s tool kit, and security
appliance <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedombox> in one plug-n-play box.

Each PeerPoint is an autonomous node on a p2p network with no centralized
corporate  infrastructure. PeerPoints communicate directly with each other
over secure, anonymous internet connections. PeerPoint users may still
connect to the internet via commercial internet service providers (ISPs),
but those ISP’s only act as blind, passive carriers of PeerPoint encrypted

The PeerPoint will be connected between the user’s pc, home network, or
mobile device and the ISP connection. It will support phone lines, mobile
devices, wifi, ethernet, etc. for maximum flexibility. It may be accessed
by your remote mobile devices either over commercial cellular networks or
p2p wireless mesh
networks<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wireless_mesh_network>like those
used by Occupy Wall Street.

The PeerPoint is designed to *Occupy the Internet*.

*The need:*

Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc. are proprietary, for-profit platforms that
exploit users to create content and value. But they provide value as well,
so a “Facebook killer” must provide greater user value (functionality,
privacy, etc.) than Facebook. For numerous reasons the services provided by
the commercial companies do not adequately meet the creative, social,
political, and financial needs of the 99%. They are not up to the tasks
that participatory democracy, non-violent social change, and sustainable
economic systems will demand of our internet communications and our
evolving cooperative methods of creating, working, organizing, negotiating,
and decision-making together, in groups large and small, regardless of the
geographical distances between us. This new kind of group interaction over
distances is what allows self-selected individuals to coalesce into
powerful workgroups, forums, and movements. It is also what will enable
direct participation in the legislative process to function at a large
scale for the first time in human history.

The social tools provided by Facebook, Twitter, etc. have been fun and
fairly useful, but if we think about how much serious collaborative work
lies ahead of us over the next decade in order to shift an entire
civilization onto a more principled, democratic, and sustainable footing,
we are going to need better, deeper, more collaborative, more functional
work tools. Those tools need to belong to us and they need to meet the
needs of of our society and our time, not the needs of a few self-serving
billionaires. With the PeerPoint approach, each user will own her own
inexpensive internet appliance and all the data and content she creates.
Why leave the usefulness of the internet and the custody of our data up to
a few companies whose business models depend on pimping us to advertisers,
and who can change their terms of service at any time?

The corporate business model is also based on surveillance of our online
activity, our thought, and our expression. By data mining the vast amounts
of our information in their custody, they identify our patterns of thought
and behavior. They do this ostensibly to sell us stuff and to make money,
and so far we have accepted this as the cost of our “free” use of
corporatized internet services. But what other, less benign uses can this
surveillance and data mining be put to? You decide.

I have been hoping for somebody like the Linux community to create an
appliance-like p2p node that provides all the apps needed for secure (and
when desired, anonymous) social networking, voting, trust/reputation
metrics, database, content collaboration and management, workflow,
complementary currency, crowd funding, etc.  I’m talking about something
that comes complete, out of the box, with the apps pre-installed; that
connects easily to your personal computer, home network, or mobile device.

*For developers:*

If a FreedomBox
<http://www.freedomboxfoundation.org/faq/index.en.html>were used as a
starting platform, the PeerPoint application package would
be added on top of the FreedomBox security stack.

The PeerPoint apps don’t yet exist as an integrated package, or even as
individual apps that are adequate to replace Facebook, Twitter, Google
Docs, Google Search, Google Earth, YouTube, Kick-Starter, etc. etc. All
this functionality is envisioned for the PeerPoint eventually.

In the beginning it will be necessary to have interfaces/connectors to
various proprietary client-server applications like Google until they can
be re-engineered in  open source p2p versions.

Initially the project would consist of a first tier of essential apps that
must be tightly integrated in their interfaces/connectors, protocols, and
data structures. After deploying the first tier, development would continue
on a second-tier of applications. Second tier development efforts could be
much more distributed and parallel since the final specs for all the basic
interfaces, protocols and data structures of the first tier modules would
be available to all interested developers.

The common requirements for each PeerPoint app are:

   - world class, best-of-breed
   - open source
   - p2p architecture
   - consistent, granular, user-customizable security management and
   identity protection
   - integrated with other apps in the suite via a common distributed
   database and/or “data bus” architecture.
   - consistent, user-customizable large, medium, and small-screen (mobile
   device) user interfaces
   - ability to interface with its corresponding major-market-share service
   (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
   - GPS enabled

First tier applications:

   1. distributed database
   2. social networking  (comparison of distributed social network
   3. trust/reputation metrics
   4. crowdsourcing: content collaboration & management  (wiki, Google
   Docs, or better)
   5. project management/workflow
   6. data visualization (data sets, projects, networks, etc.)
   7. user-customizable complementary currency and barter exchange
   (Community Forge or better)
   8. crowd funding (
   9. voting (LiquidFeedback
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LiquidFeedback>or better)
   10. universal search across all PeerPoint data/content and world wide
   web content

*Digital Commons*

One contribution the PeerPoint can make to the digital commons and the
ethics of sharing is to incorporate a computing resource sharing capability
into its system design. Every personal computer, tablet, smart phone, etc.
is idle or operating far below its capacity most of the time. Added up,
this unused capacity is equivalent to many supercomputers sitting idle.
Those idle virtual supercomputers could be used in the public interest if
the personal computing devices connected to the internet were designed to
share their idle capacity for public purposes. Users might also be given
the option to designate various percentages of their idle capacity to
different uses, causes, groups, etc.

*Peer Publica*

Once PeerPoint is up and running with the first tier applications we may be
able to organize the 99% well enough to begin rapid development of the more
complex second-tier applications and to start building or buying
alternative network infrastructure.

Our new public internet won’t be owned by corporations *or* by the state.
It will be owned by the people, an instrument of the people to invoke the
people’s will and help bring both government and corporations under civic


“We are not progressing from a primitive era of centralized social media to
an emerging era of decentralized social media, *the reverse is happening*….
Surveillance and control of users is not some sort of unintended
consequence of social media platforms, it is the reason they exist….Free,
open systems, that neither surveil, nor control, nor exclude, will not be
funded, as they do not provide the mechanisms required to capture
profit….we do not have the social will nor capacity to bring these
platforms to the masses, and given the dominance of capital in our society,
it’s not clear where such capacity will come from. …*Eliminating privilege
is a political struggle, not a technical one*.” (emphasis added) Dmytri
Kliener <http://www.dmytri.info/privacy-moglen-ioerror-rp12/>

I agree.

The integral tools I describe in PeerPoint are tools (maybe I should even
call them *weapons*) that we need *now* to conduct our political struggle,
not afterwards. The community that brought us Linux and Open
Office<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_Office>(the integrated suite
of open source applications that replaces Microsoft
Office), is capable of bringing us a PeerPoint or something equivalent if
it understands the need. If anyone doubts this, look at Wikipedia’s List of
Open Source Software<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_open_source_software>

Free/open software development is largely self-motivated and idiosyncratic,
with many islands of genius and inspiration separated by vast seas of
minutia and trivia. But the bulk of the
community <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FOSS_community> does not yet appear
to perceive its enlightened
our existential struggle for open society and government. Maybe they
feel they can outwit Big Brother better on their own terms as individuals.

Perhaps we need to help them open their “Doors of
wider, even if that takes a little mescaline.

At the very least we need to offer something like an
X-Prize<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X-Prize>and we need to be ready
and willing to fund and provision projects that
fall within PeerPoint’s conceptual scope. That should begin right now with
FreedomBox <http://freedomboxfoundation.org/learn/>, the most likely base
on which a PeerPoint might be constructed. So pony up, folks.

Like the old auctioneer says, “What’s it worth? *You tell me*.”

*Poor Richard*
“All right, now, folks–what’s it worth? Common–you tell me.”
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.alioth.debian.org/pipermail/freedombox-discuss/attachments/20120529/9e7b821b/attachment.html>

More information about the Freedombox-discuss mailing list