I think that with the whole #Mozilla fiasco, we're just witnessing once more the limit of the green/open/fair/inclusive discourse when it is essentially used as a smoke screen for commercial activities. For many years now Mozilla has used the model of running a non-profit org in front of their for-profit company. It's quite well documented and as such is not a surprising model, it is used by corporations to interface with different audiences, contexts, etc. There is however always a risk of cognitive dissonance with these models, and this is clear with Mozilla's PR right now, stuck between financial priorities and the need to maintain their image of social justice endorsers they have been working hard to promote until now.
In practice, even though they are often pitched one against the other, I see little difference between the marketing strategies used by #Google
and Mozilla. And why should they be? They both come from the same context, they are part of the same dominant tech infrastructure, and they have used the same tricks to appeal to wide audience, build upon participatory and unpaid labour, and are constantly trying new, sometimes short lived, products to try to expand their market. It does not matter that Mozilla was presenting itself as defender of the open web when free culture was peaking, or was saying its #browser was organic in the early days of food industry critique, or presented itself as a privacy safe harbour in post-Snowden times, or positioned its
community as inclusive and diverse more recently. It still remains a black box that needs to survive following the same logic and principles as any other tech company, specially if it is one that is not necessarily in the most powerful position and depends on the wealth of its competitors to provide most of its earning (basically whoever is paying Mozilla to be the default search engine).
To be sure, I don't want to make it sound like Google or others are any better, but I just want to emphasize that we keep on being sold the same product, the same culture. It's just the packaging that changes, that's all. It also does not mean that what these companies are producing are systematically crap or should be dismissed. But it's unfortunate to realise that the good stuff is impossible to decouple from the crap, specially in an age where surveillance capitalism has been shaping the offering for the worse.
There has been several threads about the possibility of turning Mozilla into a #coop and I think that trying to imagine other modes of production, and dissemination of something as ubiquitous as the web browser is very important. In the most recent years there has been a growing concern that it has became impossible to enter this space given how complex the technical, economical and political landscape around such applications is. But what is presented is often an extreme scenario: giant companies on one side, and small projects lead by single or few devs on the other side. These small efforts are important and deserve attention, but surely there can be other options between these two opposites? Concretely, how many persons do you need to develop, maintain and support a web browser and its community? How much money is necessary for that? What kind of revenue model can be put in place to make it happen? How many paying patrons/supporters/subscribers would be needed to keep it affordable or free?
These are important questions I think, not because we are missing a third voice in the browser debate, but because we don't even have an alternative to start with! And for a piece of software that has became even more important than the underlying operating system it depends on, this is quite worrisome.
@320x200 I think the only way to go forward longterm a non-profit developing a browser with native webpayments support. Browser development is financed by also being a payment provider. Native webpayments APIs allow websites to implement patreon-like sponsorships etc with minimal external stuff, browser gets a minimal service fee. Browser as a public utility.
@rra this would induce feedback loops/optimisations toward the payment system... decoupling the tool from the commercial aspect is the most important point imho : the future of the web is _not_ commercial, it's what has killed it (with the plateforms acting as intermediaries/pseudo browsers ...)
And that why this turn by Mozilla toward supposedly bankable projects is a lure from my pov @320x200
@rra well, it would be a good idea to integrate such micro payment system as a "killer feature" but I really see a danger to link it's dev to it's commercial impact, as it's not the point at the base
(beware Libra !)
we could think EU would implement GNU-Taler in it ; and why not together with Duniter as base "glocal" money (in a fork if it needs)
but a base browzer as a way to "read and write" should be public funded and future proof as a "common" outside commercial threats imho
I find it interesting how often the suggestion comes up that the browser as a utility should be funded by the public and users. In general I agree, but how many donations did Mozilla get? Apparently not enough to focus on their non-profit narrative. The possibility for the browser to become supported by users or the public has been there all the time, but obviously didn't work.
I don't think that's the root cause. Personally I donate to internet non-profits like Mozilla and WMF although I disagree with many of their actions, but I know everything would be much worse without them. The minimal "political" act required is explaining that software and other digital products cannot be created without funding.
The structural issues seem to be the "free culture" as explained in "Free" by Chris Anderson, and that most computer operations are designed to be totally transparent/invisible. The browser has probably seen the most radical move in that direction, with discussions going on of even removing the URL from the interface. The browser is incredibly complex but also treated as something not even existing.
@despens @Olm_e @rra @320x200 Its funny how this happens at a time where the corporate world is rapidly moving toward being almost completely open source as they are sick of lock-in, maintenance contracts and want sustainable, customizable stuff¹.
On the individual "consumer" side, it has gone the other way, with a tendency to just wait and see what the biggest, most popular packaged product is and never consider your own judgement or needs. A lot of this relates to the abstraction/invisibility @despens mentions.
Business people have figured out that this will get them slow, brittle, expensive shit but the consumer seems stuck on glossy conformity.
If somebody is going to pick up the pieces here it will likely be a coalition of big companies that don't want to let google control everything. I am not so thrilled by that prospect. Maybe we need to strategize now to think about how to keep that from turning into another disaster. Are there other ways of putting together enough collective identity to make it work? Is WikiMedia a good example? Blender? Coders sans Frontiers?
@praxeology blender was build by it's niche users in a niche market with niche but powerful features so not an example
wikimedia is contributed by non technical specialist so it's easy to understand the funding scheme for lambda ppl
public funding could be assembled from either EU, state or a coalition of regions/cities needing a secure browser for public operation
It would cost some ~150 M€ to "buy/copy Mozilla" rn really so I don't understand it's not already done Oo
@despens to be clear : by "public funding" I mean funding from public institutions / state , by the public tax system / social security that redistribute wealth - _not_ by the "general public" alone at home that needs to make an idea and sort the credit card - that he/she may not even have .....
and be understood as a public infrastructure as the other like water, road, electricity distribution, sewers, hospitals etc are ... (or can be)
@Olm_e @despens @rra I think we got quite close to this at some point, or at least it was being discussed quite a bit a while ago. Of course Pandora's box was already open (re: previous comment about NSFNET allowing commercial traffic on the net in 91 or 92, and marked the end as the net as public utility in the US, and if we take into account telco's history both in US and EU, maybe the box had been already open at the infrastructure level as @vfrmedia was saying about Viewdata/BT), but there was definitively a good momentum again with free software 10 years after. Not sure why it did not lead to much in the end. Commercial software vendors lobbying too strong? Disappointment in the free software offering? Licensing conflicts? Difficulty to coordinate existing free software communities? Competition and personal agenda clashes at the level EU funding seeking?
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