Software is trending in the wrong direction. Decreased transparency, centralisation, and proprietary monopolies.

In this article I describe the 5 ingredients to ethical software:

- open data
- open source
- distributed deployment
- decentralised hosting
- end to end encryption

Let's make software less about profit, and more about people again.

@thinkMoult Interesting read, thanks. The point is, however: At the moment, people *do* consider tools such as WhatsApp, Facebook or the whole Google chain to be "software for the people" because those were the first *real* manifestations of technology that were accessible, usable, availab,e to end users absolutely easy and without the need of experts. If we want to make software that is "about people", we *need* to learn where "the people" stand and what their requirements are... 😉

@z428 Well yes, these are the 5 fundamental facets of ethical software ;) not the 5 fundamental facets of popular software!

But then again ... I think that good UI, honest marketing, and ethical software are not mutually exclusive perhaps ...

@thinkMoult I agree with that idea. I just wanted to note that being "ethical" is, at very best, a non-functional requirement to the vast majority of people who do have different priorities in terms of functionality (starting with, in example, being able to easily find and reach the contacts that matter to them - that's why they keep using WhatsApp). We need to get to a point where meeting users requirements and making ethical software aren't mutually exclusive anymore. 😉


There is an ethical component to their popularity, though, that I've been struggling to articulate, but it includes things like:

What obligation should people have to look for "the catch" when they are offered a free-of-charge cloud service?

Giving over one's own data is one thing, but what about giving over other's data, eg, contact lists?

I've translated part to Polish, can I translate and publish a whole one? (not sure if gonna do it) 

@pepemao @z428 sure please translate and share! It's CC-BY-SA 4 so just credit me as an original author and link to the original.

@z428 @thinkMoult This is true, but I would also suggest that the apparent easyness and lack of experts with WhatsApp is an illusion. Instead the complexity of the system is concealed from the user through a hierarchical division of labor. People don't see the Googlers maintaining the database system or the servers, or making decisions about what to censor. They're encouraged not to think about that.

If we are to produce software which is truly fit for humans then it needs to be so in all of its aspects, including management of the databases. It needs to be federated or p2p so that the experts are under democratic control, or they are the same as the users.

@bob Yes I fully agree. It needs to be federated or preferrably P2P, but I wonder whether it needs to be a solution that drastically reduces or even eliminates the need for end users to actually "trust" experts at all.



It will *always* be a mix, because different people have different skills and interests and affinities. Ensuring a diversity of participants is involved provides an accountable structure. That's the key.

If you don't already see the pushback resentment from people who avoid and reject learning about technology, then this might be hard to appreciate.

@bob @thinkMoult

@z428 @bob @thinkMoult

If you say 'we must make it simple enough for them' so that they will accept it, then who is 'we'?

Experts. If you say this you are posing a divide between experts & users.

@z428 @bob @thinkMoult

And we've seen so far we *can't* trust many experts, from the silicon on up. Witness undocument opcodes that defeat security separation, entire on-die coprocessors that subvert control of the main processor, performance 'features' that open vast categories of exploits.

@z428 @bob @thinkMoult

There *are* experts that find and describe these problems, and that work to build more accountable systems, though.

The crucial thing is to allow this latter set of experts to work, and to ensure that people are free to choose to use that work.

@deejoe Yes. Of course. But in example, if I have a system that features strong, proven encryption, this quite reduces the amount of people I need to trust. That's what I mean. Of course you will still need to trust developers and researchers, but still it's fewer people than having to trust administrators, your hosting provider or your ISP *as well*.
@bob @thinkMoult


OK, yeah, thanks.

I think there's an irreducible complexity to the key distribution problem, and how it touches all these things, that will continue to vex us in this.

in other words, we *should* be able to trust our ISP's et al, too: defense in depth

@bob @thinkMoult

@deejoe I'm unsure. Yes I would like to do that, still: I would like an environment where the network is just about "transporting data" and not even my ISP has access to plain (meta)data of my communication. Not sure however whether we will ever get there.

@bob @thinkMoult

it's a noble thought. Should be addressed mainly to developers and programmers.
Ordinary ppl - users - should frequently be made aware of dangers and cunningness of mainstream gugl and fb software, starting from the age of 10-11 I think. The education should be repeated each grade to code it into young ppl's heads. Otherwise, gugl and other giants will continue to manage a large flock of sheep.

@thinkMoult One of the best texts describing why it is good to use #foss. Matches very well with my motivation to do so.

@silwol I'm really glad you enjoyed it and the ideas resonated.

We need more people culture, less corporate culture :)

@thinkMoult "[...], where some web developers are unaware of the full stack of web-related software required to serve even simple static files over the internet" sums up the current WWW very well ; Thanks for this post 💯

@thinkMoult Lesenswerter Twitter-Threat dazu: "Software will eat the world sounds nicer than *We* will eat the world"...

@thinkMoult Very nice introduction for your blogpost. Also, your blog looks kind of beautiful.

@hinterwaeldler I'm glad you enjoyed it :) also happy to see somebody else out there sees beauty in the raw web.

@thinkMoult The slower my computer gets, the more I learn to appreciate simple websites.

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