Mozilla, bastion of the Open Internet, intends to switch its communications from the ancient and very open IRC, to … well, something better, as Mike Hoye explains in the articles Synchronous Text and Goals And Constraints.
My concern is that the first article suggests an intention to look for a complete packaged solution — “We are not rolling our own”. it reads to me like the hope is that not only is the software packaged, but also a hosting service and also the management of the service, and that brings to my mind such things as the handling of complaints and legal bureaucracy. Such a solution is likely to be commercial and closed, because commerce has found there is a great demand for such systems and developed some.
The state of open communication systems is fragmented and rough-edged in comparison, even though great progress has been made on some fronts. Perhaps open communication systems are under-valued by the governments, universities and open-source organizations that might have power to resource their development. They might see that email works very well and many other channels are available and think that the commercial market is doing a good job in developing new alternatives and doing society a favour in making them available for use for no charge. Perhaps the decision makers have not the background, the insight and the careful consideration it takes to be able to see the other side of the equation. Anyway, the result is that the development of open systems hasn’t really been pushed by larger society, and it seems to me only now in the last few years are we (society) starting to understand an inkling what we are missing because of that.
As someone who feels aligned with Mozilla’s view of the social values and ethics of an open internet, I have been quietly wishing that they and other organizations will increasingly help push open systems into the mainstream. The possibility of them adopting a proprietary communication system quite upsets me.
I admire the foresight of the French government for boldly choosing Matrix for their chat system.
I took the opportunity to drop some hints in this direction in my response today to Mozilla’s “Reimagine the Web” Survey.
The specific issue of replacing Mozilla’s main real-time communication network is being discussed in a room/channel named Synchronicity on Matrix and on IRC, and they plan to start standing up candidate solutions and evaluating them soon. I don’t have much available hobby time to participate, but I hope to throw a few tuits into that space if I can.