OT mailing lists wit web interface

marc marcxfe at welz.org.za
Mon Oct 28 23:13:41 UTC 2019

Lionel wrote: 

> >> I know that I'm old-fashioned in this respect, but I think for
> >> online discussions no better system than Usenet has been invented,
> >> but mailing lists are the next best options.
> > Full ACK.
> Have you lived the heydays of Fidonet?

I am going to assume that Lionel's comment was meant
snarkily. However, I think it is worthwhile to
approach this a bit more thoughtfully. For many of us the
free software movement is a part of something more general -
the wish to use computers/cyberspace ethically.

The Consumer-based and Ethics-based world are often in
conflict. For well-trained consumers life is simple:
Newer is better and bigger is better - that is how they
are kept consuming.

Certainly a web-based interface is newer than
mailing-lists, usenet or fidonet. The web browser is
certainly bigger too, unhealthily so.

But from my personal perspective a web-based interface 
substantially inferior to a simple mailing list. Here are 
my reasons:

- A mailing list is well distributed - everybody has a
  copy of the message. And chances are excellent that I can
  contact my correspondents directly, without the permission
  of or interference from the forum administrator.

- The modern web browser is a terrible piece of software.
  Even if the software is nominally released under a free
  (or even just opensource) license, it is very hard to
  participate as an independent developer - the sheer size of
  the browser codebase is deployed a weapon to exclude. Just
  you try building a big browser for a new platform.

- The motivations of those developing the modern web
  browser do not fully align with the interests of the
  userbase. At best the development decisions imply the
  developers think themselves to be wise and their users
  stupid. But is generally worse than that - in many respects
  the modern web browser isn't written for the users but
  for advertisers. As they say: If you are not the customer,
  then you are product.

Put simply I value a world where power and control is more
or less evenly distributed amongst everybody - I mean,
that is the concept of a functioning democracy, right ? I'd
like to think that RMSes four freedoms are part of that,
as they help motivated individuals control their computers
rather then being controlled by them. Unfortunately
mainstream, modern web browsers are used to centralise power
and control populations by collecting vast amounts of data 
on them.

In this regard is unfortunate some posters promote these 
technologies and think that is ok to accept money from entities 
who construct these antifree, antiprivacy or antidemocratic 



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