MediaGoblin's campaign for federation and privacy

By Christopher Allan Webber on Wed 12 March 2014


Support MediaGoblin! Help us take back the net!

The MediaGoblin campaign is live! Well okay... it's been live for a couple of weeks now. I think the video above explains everything we're trying to do pretty well, so maybe you should watch that first. (Better yet, watch it on the campaign page, and hopefully donate while you're at it!)

So our website and campaign page and video and etc try to explain why we think you should donate to the campaign. But I thought I'd write here, also... there's something different, I think, about a personal blog post... some things are more easily said. So let me ramble on a bit.

I guess the easiest thing to open with is the most obvious... it's been an interesting year as in terms of making it clear *why* MediaGoblin matters. The danger of Snowden revelations have made it obvious that a highly centralized internet is a problem.

But awareness alone won't fix the problem, we need to really build solutions. I think just how true this is became obvious to me earlier in the year, when I spoke to another prominent internet activist (I won't name names) who said to me more or less: "The centralized internet is a problem, but we don't actually think we can get people to change their habits, that's too hard. So instead we're focused on talking about the problem and writing up what rights users should have."

I've thought about this line of reasoning a lot. I agree that getting people to change their habits is really hard. And raising awareness and talking about rights are super important. And pushing for governmental reforms are important. But let's face it, the NSA snooping was already breaking laws and violating our rights, and there isn't any evidence that those programs are ending any time soon, especially when it's so easy to keep them going in the present technological environment. We need to build something better. We need to actually build tools and make them usable and even enjoyable so that people can switch away.

To put it another way: when even the most prominent internet activist campaigns are using Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter to complain about the centralization effects those very services help to perpetuate, it shows you how much we need ways to communicate that aren't part of the problem. And that's exactly what we're working on with MediaGoblin.

It's true that these are hard things to do. They take resources, they take time. But we have to do them. And we can do them.

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We have an opportunity here with MediaGoblin. If we can hit 1.0 and get federation support into MediaGoblin (which is mostly the first goal of the fundraising campaign), that alone would be huge. But we'd like to do more than that... we'd like to invest resources into making adding federation support easier to python web applications generally, add privacy features, and a bunch more. We've laid out what those goals are specifically in the "Unlock More Features!" section of the campaign page.

MediaGoblin is more than that, too. MediaGoblin is also a vision for what we think the future of free software could be. We work on network freedom issues because in a networked age, without network freedom, there is no user freedom. We work on making the software beautiful because we believe beautiful free software web applications are the only way that free software can be adopted by the world. We support diversity initiatives because we think diversity is important on its own, and because we believe that a diverse project is a better project. We work on messaging and making messaging that tries to be as accessible to everyone as it can, both because free software is something that everyone should enjoy, and without clear explainations of why these things matter, free software will remain a privilege for a technical elite. We believe user freedom belongs to everyone.

If that resonates with you, I encourage you to support our campaign. And consider spreading the word. Anything you do really does make a huge difference.

Thanks, internet. We do it for you.