Are there lessons we can learn from freenet?


Freenet is often pointed to as a similar project that did not achieve widespread use.

It seems like there should be some lessons that can be drawn from it, that we could seek early on to address so that safenet gains a wider user base than they managed.

How can safenet capture the hearts and minds of a large user base, while freenet is often unknown, even among geeks?


Interesting question. I must say that I’m not that familiar with it myself. I’ll have to learn more before I can have an idea how to approach your question, though it’s interesting to consider.

What are your ideas?


This is something I attempted to address some time ago, without much success.

I truly believe there is massive potential with this technology however the fundamental problem is that the average person doesn’t care about having complete anonymity. They want to send the odd email, do a bit of shopping, read the news and go on Facebook. To the average user it’s more of a risk going into an environment where everything is anonymous than not entering it. E-commerce (as we currently know it) is impossible - would you transfer funds to some completely anonymous entity? What benefit does the average person in the western world gain by having complete anonymity on the Internet? The average person doesn’t think/consider that if they don’t move into the SAFE Network they are sleepwalking into government oppression.

A few years back MaidSafe had a project called Sigmoid(x) (I think) which I though was a perfect use for this technology - but could have been taken further. If memory serves it was a project aimed at businesses so that rather than having dedicated file servers and a backup policy/system all data would be spread throughout the network, on end-user machines. I thought this was fantastic and something that gave real benefits. I’m sure all networks have very lopsided resource use and this went a good way towards remedying this, i.e. not having a few machines in a network being hammered (and having to worry about them going down) and all other machines sitting doing bugger all. Also since the capacity within the entire network is greater than a comparatively small number of servers is ever going to be it solves loads of problems - not least the difficulty in retrieving old backup data - typically if you’ve old data that’s moved onto tape then you pretty much should consider it lost, the cost of retrieval is rarely worth it.

I personally think the anonymity aspect is what’s being touted as the main selling point of this technology. I may be wrong but I think this is a mistake as it’s appealing to only a very niche market. Everyone wants to store/backup data, a lot of people want extra computing power, few people want anonymity.

The USP of FreeNet was anonymity and it (arguably) failed. Fair enough it is very slow and the SAFE Network may be much faster but I think if there was sufficient appetite for FreeNet then the performance would have been addressed.

In my opinion this network should focus on P2P (not anonymity). Cheap, fast, reliable data storage (which is hard considering how cheap this already is!) plus cheap, fast, reliable distributed execution (this isn’t super cheap yet).

Systems like HTCondor (University of Wisconsin) could be developed on the SAFE Network. HTCondor is successful but I think you could get something much more sophisticated and over much larger number of nodes.

System like SETI@Home are fairly successful however if you’ve got something like SAFECoin in the mix then you’re much more likely to have reliable nodes, making context switches (etc) less likely and therefore having better overall throughput.


Freenet had a very small scope of capabilities, and none of the major pulls SAFE is ramping up to deliver.

Freenet, as I remember it, was just a small box you’d have to buy and install, in hopes of connecting to other tinkerers and create a little network for fun.

SAFE is running a whole new fully-featured replacement internet, that will allow anybody with internet access to instantly make real money muuuuuch easier than the current centralized economy allows for. And not just by farming data, but by creating any type of digital content.

So everybody (who likes money) will jump on SAFE without fail, assuming everything is developed according to plan. This includes authors, artists, journalists, developers, actors, models, singers, philosophers, physicians, teachers, sculptors, and anyone else in the world wishing to jump out of the centralized society where the rules are rigged and into a total free market for everybody



Only Farmers, Builders and Core Devs need to be aware of SAFE…for the vast majority it’s going to be the experience of apps…mobile,tablet, browser i.e the capabilities of the network will be leveraged and demonstrated via apps.

I think we’ll get a fair share of farmers and devs from the current crypto space, but converting consumers of services (via apps) into providers of resources (via farming) legally?

What incentive do builders have to upsell their users into farming or will this become industry standard… i.e If a paid app requires a direct payment of SAFEcoin, it’s kind of a pain for a new user to go the extra step and purchase via an exchange (this is new stuff after all)…but if the user can offset this up front payment by ticking the enable farming function (and the builder supplies a small amount of credit to start) then (by providing credit) the builder got a sale and the network a new farming node.

The SAFE Networks success is pretty much secured by what is going to be built on it I’d think…

But SAFEcoin…what will it achieve, will it be viewed like Bitcoin and be shunned by the mainstream, whilst they simultaneously cheer the new breakthrough SAFE Network.

Money is dangerous, but cash is the devil right now :slight_smile:


I’m not aware of the marketing strategy of freenet… but i do know that a good portion of the marketing strategy for safenet should be targeting the edu’s; similar to how Facebook got started. I was extremely happy to read up on those postings by the class in Australia. If we can incentivize those in the academic world - those students who believe in our motto of privacy and freedom, but also find utility in the network - the campaign will spread like wild fire. And when they graduate, they’ll enter the working world with the Safe Network being part of their foundation. Just imagine where they take it from there.

On a side note… just think of all those universities around the world… all those students and their personal computers sitting in dorm rooms with free electricity and access to the web :slight_smile:


Yes me too, these are the guys…by the time you get to university you’ve got the will of industry to contend with. If industry want SAFE, universities will trip over themselves to offer exposure.

We know the spending power of young people is very much targeted by industry…so these young people can influence what happens upstream I’m sure.


If the success of anonymous chat applications with school aged people is anything to go on, it would suggest a demographic shift towards the expectation of anonymity in future generations.

I would suggest Lifestuff (what is the current status of this suite?) could go viral out of the gate with this chat demographic.


Yeah, having thought about it, freenet is only about anonymity basically. SAFE just has anonymity as the default in an otherwise dynamic, scalable and very slick experience. The torrent replacement function alone will drive adoption all over the planet.

I don’t think anonymity needs to be shied away from, but it is far from the only feature of the network. Far from it.


Maidsafe mainly advertises security not really anonymity, But for great security you need the ability to be anonymous , they go hand in hand. it’s next to impossible to attack a target you cannot possibly track or trace.

Maidsafe is incentive driven to begin with. Drive to a larger community will happen in stages, offering a network that gives incentive to everyday people from simple video creators to graphic makers, from website engineers to full blown expert coders . They are given opportunity and huge incentive/reward to join the safenetwork and to make it expand and become something better.

The incentive is one of the differences that will drive early adoption and benefit the network, Where there is money to be earned the crowd will follow, it will be cost against reward and if the reward is higher people will jump in, in their thousands if the gap is big enough.


Oh, the torrent replacement feature…this will be the THING on the SAFE network :smiley:


I’ve never actually used it myself but don’t think you needed specific hardware to get connected. Are you thinking of Freeview (TV service in the UK?) :smile: Pretty sure you could do more than just connect with other people, apps could be developed on it too…pretty sure I once saw a tutorial on writing a chess app that operated over Freenet. Speed was apparently an issue though.

I doubt the reason kids are looking for anonymity is because they’re worried about the NSA trying to track them. I think it’s more that they want a bit of excitement, spreading rumours about people in school, slagging each other off, etc. They can achieve the level of anonymity they’re after just fine with a pseudonym - unless of course they’re actually doing something really harmful, i.e. cyber-bullying which leads to suicide and actually do end up being tracked down.


The same as I think Safenet will gain attention… It should focus on private sector and high school like said some further down the posts and adoption will grow linear with the possibilities provided because these folks influence others to use those services…

Yesterday I installed it once again to take a look at it… Can’t say it doesn’t work – latency was +400ms but they advise to keep it running in the background and things will go faster after some hours/days…

UI-design is pretty worse (Just in-browser tabs/pages) and connecting through localhost in the address-bar isn’t really user friendly neither imo

This way you’re definitely not going for mass adoption…


Freenet provide no guarantee that data is not lost and always has been extremely slow.

These two features already ensured their failure.


I’ll stick to my mantra of “Education = Exposure”

Actually if your making a SAFEapp @ the moment you should document it. This way your showing others how to make the app and your creating content. Both can bring you SAFEcoins @ the end of the day. It would be nice if every app coming out had the label “Powered by the SAFE Network” eventually some curious people will ask “Hey what is this SAFE Network?”. I love video of how stuff is made/installed etc, so I will always push this in the apps I’ll develop or let others develop. There are so many places where you can educate other people about SAFEapps., Codecademy, Nettuts, Khan Academy every time that another SAFEapp is being educated on these platform, your basically placing an ad for the SAFE Network.

Money isn’t dangerous if it’s resourced based like SAFEcoin (like gold was), but digital cash will be a Godivrine send for humanity. The only thing that’s dangerous for them @least, is people who look @ SAFEcoin and look @ the fiat price of it.

But I guess we can’t all sea how to spit a see.


These comments give an insight into the current perception of freenet from the nerds on hacker news (18 years after launch).

SAFE will probably end up addressing exactly these same concerns over and over again, so it’s good to have some existing basis for understanding how to craft the message for potential early adopters.

loved the ideals and design of Freenet

discoverability was horrible

usually stuff I wouldn’t want to find to begin with

a reputation for only illegal things on it

early adopters will [consist of] everyone barred by the rules of other services, which means you become a cesspool

make its intended use cases highly visible

the technology wasn’t capable enough - the security wasn’t worth the usability and performance tradeoffs for most users

your new society will end up consisting of approximately three principled civil libertarians and seven zillion witches

it’s safest to run Freenet on anonymously leased VPS

Freenet was an impressive vehicle for exploring some very important topics and ideas

the community around it was … unpleasant

[the freenet community] were always hostile to any advice or criticism from others even in their own field

Freenet isn’t a permanent data store … but any time anyone mentioned it [the freenet community] would go a bit ballistic

your only defense [about hosting illegal data] is that your node was just relaying those illegal chunks to some other node. But that requires expert testimony, and a jury that’s capable of understanding that expert testimony.

IPFS … doesn’t move in an anonymity friendly direction at all.

What Freenet does better than Tor is keep content available, even if the provider goes away


I agree, this and more. Community is very important, so that is good. I think we try hard there, but yes all the illegal use will always be a big one. I think us promoting safe content like wikipedia etc. would be helpful though.


A music platform that doesn’t play whack-a-mole but instead has properly aligned incentives and discoverability couldn’t hurt.