FreedomBox at DevFest Vienna 2014

I spent the last two days at the DevFest Vienna 2014, which is a friendly gathering of developers with a wide range of different interests - from grassroots hacking enthusiasts to startup entrepreneurs.

Saturday was a day filled with presentations and talks. I gave a 5 minute lightning talk introducing FreedomBox to an audience of about 20 developers, some of them knew the project. Sunday was a free-style hacking day, with people working on their own projects or in groups. I spent a few hours working with my FreedomBox (on a CubieTruck), and then again presented some of its functions. I had several good conversations on both days. It was nice being in a casual and diverse group of developers.

I have to say I was a bit disappointed by the fact that after revelations of mass online surveillance, the average Internet startups are back to business as usual. They don’t really care. They all continue to follow a pattern of growing, maximizing, and owning their user base. They create super-simple user interfaces, they let you create an account, put you into their database, and then give you some API or JavaScript to integrate your system with their system, binding you to their application logic and business model. Initiatives such as FreedomBox, Unhosted, the IndieWeb, OpenID, etc. are unfamiliar concepts to many of them.

There were however also a few people who were genuinely interested in efforts for a more free, decentralized, and private Internet. In general, I find that when I present the FreedomBox, it continues to capture people’s attentions. There were many good questions about its hardware and software architecture, and some good suggestions.

In total, it was a fun 2 days. Working against centralization and surveillance is important. Simply having fun hacking on things you enjoy is also important.

Here are some results from the “OpenHack” part of DevFest.

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