Recent conversations about the relationship between the SAFE Network project and the Tim Berners-Lee / MIT / Inrupt Solid initiative got me wondering about strategic partnerships. Solid has an immediate visibility advantage from the name recognition of its founder TimBL. Although I must confess, my interest the SAFE project was piqued at least in part by @dirvine’s delightful Scots brogue in the Mozilla IRL podcast on decentralization - I am not sure that is a sound basis for promoting the project!
What I am wondering is whether there is any systematic effort being made to form alliances between the SAFE project and other like-minded initiatives? In one of my earlier posts, I mentioned the e.foundation privacy oriented mobile operating system and there may be some synergy there. It also seems to me that Mozilla is doing good work in promoting an safe and open evolution of the 'net and I think there may be opportunities to collaborate with them. Specifically, I believe Mozilla have a speech recognition project that would be worth looking at. At this point Google has that field pretty much wrapped-up but their current business model is too invasive.
But, speaking of Google, I have some hope that the DNA which gave them their founding motto “Don’t be Evil” may still lurk beneath the surface. Over the years, they have supported much open-source work and even TimBL is recognizing with the founding of Inrupt that there is a place for the financial energy that a private corporation can provide. Might there be some way to engage with them in a productive mutually beneficial collaboration that does not compromise the founding principles of SAFE?
I hold no hope for Facebook, they were an unmitigated sleaze-fest from the word go who have achieved their prominence by appealing to the lowest-common-denominator of human instincts. The sooner we can displace them with a community forum that respects the privacy of their users, the better. There is however something to be learned from the Facebook phenomenon in the sense of an object lesson in what not to do.
Finally, and perhaps against the grain, there might be value in exploring a relationship with Amazon. My thoughts here are along the lines that a guy who made his billions, at least in part, by promoting the value of long form reading can’t be all bad. Sure their dominance in the retail sector is scary but it is based on a relatively honest and straightforward value proposition that consumers benefit from - phenomenal consolidation of comparative data, large scale buying power and utterly transformational logistics. And, of course, their influence in the cloud computing sphere with AWS is a whole other story. To be fair, I don’t know how far they have gone in the direction of exploiting user data and that should certainly be taken into account in any approach. One last point, with regard to Bezos ownership of the Washington Post - I see that as an example of the long-standing tradition of a powerful financial patron acquiring a press asset not to exploit it for commercial interest but to protect it from both commercial and political influence. Perhaps I am being naive but that is my impression.
One last thought/question - here in Canada, the telecom carriers have initiated a proposal that would allow them to collect and use subscriber data. If tracking is implemented on the level of physical devices and network hardware, what hope have we of avoiding the surveillance complex with software only? Are there any strategic alliances to be made in this respect?
That’s just a quick top-of-mind scan to illustrate the potential of strategic partnerships. I am sure there are other examples of specific technical initiatives, e.g. in blockchain technology, that would be more obvious to the Dev community.