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Delicious a prison.

20111006 (2011 October 06 Thursday)

Delicious, a social book marking site, is broken. It was sold to Yahoo, then to AVOS, then AVOS changed it so it no longer works how I and a lot of other people use it. But what do I do?

I should have known better, this is what happens when you let others look after your data without strong controls. You get locked in. Or is it, is there another way?

At work the materials purchasing people tell me that it is cheaper in the long run if we use materials that can be sourced from multiple suppliers (multi-source). If this is not possible then we should have strong relationships with the supplier (see lean manufacturing, the Toyota way. I will not talk about it here.).

So how do I multi-source software?

Most software has a single source. What properties do I need in the software to satisfy my multi-source requirement.

I think there are two paths to multi-source: free-software and free-protocols.

Free-software

free-software is defined as:

  • Freedom 0: The freedom to run the program, for any purpose.
  • Freedom 1: The freedom to study how the program works, and change it so it does your computing as you wish. (Access to the source code is a precondition for this.)
  • Freedom 2: The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbour.
  • Freedom 3: The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others. By doing this you can give the whole community a chance to benefit from your changes. (Access to the source code is a precondition for this.)

Because of these freedoms it is possible for you or someone else, possibly working for you, to takeover the project. It is possible to study it and design a replacement.

Free-protocols, exportability, reconfigurability

But we need another way. One that is not absolutely necessary if we always use free-software (but still preferable), but is if we choose to use proprietary software.

  • The freedom to change our mind, to not be locked in. This freedom requires free-software or free-protocols, reconfigurability (at least at my end) and exportability of data.
  • Protocols: network protocols, file formats, APIs, etc. need to be free.
  • I need to be able to export my data in a free-protocol, and I need to do regular backups.
  • I need to be able to configure client software, to point at a new server etc.

Summary

I need to be able to change my mind. To get out of unhealthy relationships when a supplier does not treat me well.

So I should use free-software, software that has the three properties listed above, or preferably both.

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