HI:Plans

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I am considering offering a number of web/internet services, either for free or using buyer-set pricing (depending on the service).

Services

Service Similar to Possible software Free? Main Advantages Main Obstacles
cloud storage Google Drive, Dropbox ownCloud for limited space NOP, NOA, BSP for more than default capacity, RUI storage costs money (though not much)
search engine Google, Yahoo!, Bing YaCy YES DDN, NOP, RUI, no tracking or automatic "personalization"

some research needed:

  • to see if search ability improves on less-underpowered server
  • to determine what server power is needed in order to make service reliable
social networking Google+, Facebook Friendica YES DDN, NOP, NOA, RUI
retail service Amazon Marketplace, Etsy, Ebay VbzCart this is complicated DDN, NOP, RUI much code remains to be written to make this a service and distributed
media hosting YouTube, Vimeo, Soundcloud (audio) details YES
  • DDN, NOP, NOA, RUI
  • no automatic DMCA takedowns
  • audio-only player available (video not required)
integration coding
email hosting GMail, Yahoo! Mail, etc. details YES NOP, NOA, RUI; won't demand money for POP3 or IMAP access (unlike Yahoo Mail)
  • spam filtering needs to be good
  • existing webmail clients all have issues
web hosting GoDaddy, HostGator, BlueHost, etc. Virtualmin / Usermin free accounts for uses we decide are beneficial NOP, NOA, BSP, RUI usability of existing software needs to be explored

Advantages

Obviously these services are all available elsewhere, but I'm thinking I could offer a number of improvements over the alternatives.

The following would be true for many/most of these services, so I'll use abbreviations to indicate where they apply:

  • DDN: designed as part of a distributed network, with multiple nodes inter-operating from different domains -- nobody would "own" the network
  • NOP: revenue would not support the plutonomy (or would support it a lot less than simply doing business directly with it)
  • NOA: No Anschluss -- user would be in complete control of which of their accounts to link together
  • BSP: buyer-set pricing
  • RUI: the service will be intensively responsive to user input on how it should work: public bug trackers, trouble-ticket system, wikis for instructions, etc.

Advantages for all services:

  • All specialized code used to integrate these services would be made open source as well, so that others could set up their own nodes. I want this to be a replicable business model.
  • Free services might ask for (but not require) donations and/or might do discreet, mainly textual/informative advertising for paid services or merchants using the retail service. My thinking now, though, is that we would not accept 3rd-party ads, and we would definitely not use an outside "advertising network" like Google Ads.
  • To the extent that there is integration across services (which I see as part of the mid-range plan), users will have complete control over which accounts to link and which to leave separate.
  • No nymwars.

Obstacles

Although there is already open-source software for most of these services, some considerable code would need to be written to allow single-sign-on. However, since the mass automatic integration of services on Google is considered a problem by many, the lack of such integration here will probably be seen as an advantage by many as well.

Revenue

The revenue model Google seems to be following is that once you have gotten someone's attention (by offering them various free services which they then use regularly), they're more likely to buy things from you or through you even if you don't directly ask them to (as in banner ads). In other words, they create their own micro-economy, from which they gain by being the broker for various transactions (for which they are also sometimes the seller).

Craigslist seems to have made this model work on a small scale, for a much more limited set of services.

My plan is to use a model similar to Google's, but to avoid Google's centralization (which is ultimately what caused them to stray from their "don't be evil" credo).

Goals - long-term

  • undercut hierarchical big chain model
  • undercut centralized web services
  • out-perform profit-driven services
  • create interoperable mini-economies
  • experiment with new ways of conducting economic transactions
    • participant-backed monetary system
      • e.g. sellers could back their currency with stock
      • other users offer credit based on personal trust, like RipplePay
      • microcredits for any valued form of participation, e.g. writing popular post or uploading popular video
  • when profits are sufficient, use excess to:
    • do the things that government should be doing but increasingly is not:
      • provide for the needy, defend the underprivileged, work towards unconditional income
      • fund scientific research, make the results freely available
      • provide sources of undoctored information; vet existing sources for reliability
      • (this will probably be a much longer list, eventually)
    • hire lawyers as needed to defend against inevitable attacks from large traditional-model businesses
    • play the political influence game, but push things in positive directions

Back Burner

To be expanded on later:

  • seeker-oriented job board
    • better communication between job-seekers and employers
    • profit motive secondary to helping people find employment
    • more information aggregated about employers
  • audio/video streaming (Icecast)
  • photo album (should be available standalone or as feature of social networking)
  • liquid agenda
  • money account tracking / contribution tracker
  • project management (like Redmine)
  • public service bounty tracker
  • wikis?
  • Minecraft server -- just because I know some people who want one
  • Kune? Going to set this up to see what it can do.

More Information

Some of the links on this page go to other pages on this site in order to explain various things at leisure; here's a list: