We are down to just two operating systems for mobile phones (tablets too) Android and iOS.

Android is controlled by Google, no OEM phone maker that wants to do business globally will defy Google and try and fork it.  Android and a lot of the most popular apps tells Google everything it can about you and your every move.  In otherwords it leaks your privacy out like a sieve.

iOS is proprietary from Apple.  It’s a walled garden.  You do it Apple’s way or STFU.  It is probably more private than Android.  And it works.

That’s it. No other choices.

Long term the only other chances for a mobile OS come from Linux and here are the ones I’m aware of.

Sailfish – spun off from Nokia’s flirtation with Linux, this one does not seem to be gaining traction.  And it seems like the US is always being left out of release plans.  No OEM has adopted it. You can download it and try and install it on a couple of old model compatible phones.

KDE Plasma Mobile – it’s hard to tell how far along this Linux based OS is.  The screen shots are nice. (See notes for Librem 5 below.)

UBports Ubuntu Touch – This community effort seems to be making big strides.  When Ubuntu gave up on Ubuntu Mobile they turned it over to a volunteer community UBports who have been working away ever since.  It comes with a couple hundred apps and web apps, plus anything that the browser can handle.  If I were a phone OEM, I’d have my eye on this.  You can download this now and install it on several old model phones.  Some have an installation wizard.  (See notes for Librem 5 below.)

Puri.sm Librem 5 – this is actually a real phone hardware not just an OS.  The OS is Linux adapted to mobile.  The last I heard, the plan is that the Librem 5 will come with Purism’s mobile OS installed by default, but it will be fully compatible with UBports Touch and Plasma Mobile.  No word on how easy it will be to install any one of these.  Launch has been delayed from January 2019 to April 2019.  I’m hoping this is the point of the spear and proves very successful so that other OEM’s become interested in Linux phones.

Linux needs to get into mobile where all the growth is.  It can’t just stay on the desktop.  There may be others but these seem to be the furthest along.

Let me define this: Independent means not controlled by corporate or political masters. Unbiased means they don’t take sides with either the Right or the Left but state the facts.

I’m asking YOU. Whoever is reading this: What are the good, independent, unbiased, news sources?  I realized today I’m not sure anymore so I thought I would step outside my own little bubble and ask.  These could be any kind of news: news news, tech news, political news, international news, weird news, etc.  These can be big sites or news blogs. Who should I be paying attention too?

Feel free to use the comments below.

This is a follow on of: Let Us Build a New Web, so you might want to start with that.

Here I want to talk about expanding beyond a static site or just a blog.  For most of these I think I would probably also have a blog just because it’s easy to post updates and announcements on one.

Website Ideas:

Wiki – if you have used Wikipedia then you already have used a wiki.  Wiki’s are very good for collaborative websites.  You can build a knowledge base  with a wiki. You might not need a blog if you have a wiki.  Wiki’s are best for making vast globs of sprawling information able to be found through the wiki’s site search and hyperlinks.

You can use one for group journal type role play.  I have always wanted to use a wiki for world building for table-top RPG’s like D&D, CoC, Metamorphosis Alpha and/or Traveler.

Knowledge Base – a KB is great for making a detailed manual.  You see a lot of knowledge bases used in software support.  Here is an example for WSNLinks.

So if you have some detailed, step-by-step knowledge you want to share, a knowledge base might be perfect.

Some KB ideas: how to paint RPG miniatures, naval miniatures wargame rules,  table-top RPG rules manual, any kind of howto guide.

Directory – I’ll talk about two variants, there are more but I’ll stick with two for now.  1. Links Directories and 2. Business Directories.  Links Directories are collections of hyperlinks to websites (ie. Yahoo started out as a links directory.) Business Directories, may or may not have hyperlinks, but they generally list the name, address, phone number and hours of operation of a business.  Most include a map showing the business location (ie. Yelp, and the online Yellow Pages.)

  1. Links Directory – this could be something as simple as using a directory for hosting your own bookmarks.  (ie. back in the day I knew someone who had a “Cool Directory” which was anything he thought was cool.  Basically his bookmarks.)  Make a topical directory, links to websites about a topic you are passionate about. (A cause, hobby, science fiction, anime, comics, etc.)  I do think that a blog compliments a directory well.  It gives the directory owner a voice.
  2. Business Directory – these make perfect local directories, their strength is they can list bricks and mortar businesses that do not have a website.  These can also be used as restaurant review sites.  I always thought a directory of weird old tourist attractions would be cool.

Forums – forums are an old school social network.  For niche sites they can be perfect for like minded people to have in depth discussions. One advantage a forum has over social networks with moving timelines, a post or a reply, much like email, will sit there waiting for you until you return.  So maybe you only visit once a week, all activity will be there waiting for you.

Most hosting accounts have a couple of free forums scripts ready to deploy at the touch of a button.  I like SimpleMachines forum the best. YMMV.  If your community thrives and becomes big you can move up to something like Invision Community.

The down side of forums are they are very hard to get started.  They work best when you and a few friends decide beforehand you need one.  Otherwise, start a blog on the topic first, attract a following and then ask your followers if they would be interested in a forum for more chat.

For almost all the above I think you should have a blog.  It is always a good way to reach out by syndicating to social networks.  You can mix and match all the different scripts described above whatever works for you.  Again if all you need is X number of pages and then your topic is exhausted just make a static site.  Do it for you. Do what pleases you.

If you have ever had the yen to build a website the above can give you some ideas.  Feel free to comment if you have ideas of your own or questions.

This was also posted to
/en/web.

Masto.host has fully managed Mastodon hosting starting at 5 Euros a month.

Over the long run this is bad news especially for Twitter.  This is turnkey hosting, all you have to do is work the admin panel.  I  think we a crossing a threshold here in social networks and breaking silos.

The problem with Mastodon are that the weaknesses of Twitter remain, it is too easy to have pile-ons, mobs etc.  And so much depends on how well the Admins of each instance manage these things.  Plus there will be a lot of churn.

But with all that said a lot of small groups (including fringe groups) can have their own social network and it’s affordable.

Lunascape is the first web browser with 3 rendering engines:  Trident (IE), Gecko (FF) and Webkit.  This is handy for developers and others who want to see what a webpage looks like with different rendering engines.

Runs on Windows, macOS, iOS and Android.

Personally I’m not sure I would use this as a default, but I think it would be handy to have it installed on my laptops.

The Europeans won’t come out and say it but the fact that Google, the dominant search engine in most of Europe, is controlled by Americans makes them nervous.  It should.

I’m repeating myself but it’s long past due for the EU to develop it’s own search engine.  A few years ago they were set to do that and then it just fizzled.  I also think small nations, the Baltic states come to mind, should at least have several directories or a small search engine, with their own index, covering their country, their language and on their soil.

This isn’t about nationalism, but it is important in the same way that a country having it’s own TV show, movie and news production is.  It has cultural, educational, informational and security implications.  Information, knowledge, controlling your own data, controlling your own search all of these things are power in the 21st Century.  We take these things for granted but they are very important.

And then I started thinking about this in the context of Brexit.  No matter what Brexit is going to happen and Britain is not going to be part of the EU.  Fortunately, the UK does have a search engine: Mojeek.com for global English language and Mojeek.co.uk which favors UK websites.  And it’s pretty darn good.  It is really something the British ought to get behind and start using, because it would be downright criminal to let it wither away.

Again this is not about nationalism, this is about having all your essential kit under your own roof.  Just my opinion.

 

This was also posted to
/en/search-engines.

 

Here is an interesting artifact from the Web 1.0 past.  A list of known search engines and directories.

See the List Search Engine List

  1. This is only a partial list.
  2. This does not list the thousands of niche, national, regional and local directories of that time.

Almost all these are gone.  If you want a glimpse at what web search was like in 2001 click the link.  A list from 1999 would be even better and more vibrant.  A lot of these search engines had no hope of surviving in 2001, but at least most of them had their own index.  Now we are down to 2: Google and poor second Bing, plus a couple of smaller engines with their own indexes.  And you don’t call that a monopoly?  You don’t call that a silo, and a dangerous one at that?

Look at that list – at least they were trying.

@simonwoods made a great point about (re)building the web and search.

I’m convinced the best answer to search is websites. Let people collect and curate the information, rather than play Google’s game and then inch-by-inch the alternative search becomes viable —

Do read that whole thread I linked to above and pay particular attention to Simon’s replies because he’s on to something.

Here are a couple of takeaways I want to highlight:

  1. We, the little people, need to rebuild the web.  It does not do to just complain about silos and then point out other corporate alternatives, first and foremost the web needs websites built by individual humans, not just corporations, SEO’s and people trying to get their hand in your pocket.  This is the foundation of everything.
  2. People will not leave the silos and corporate web unless there is an alternative, ie. someplace to go and that someplace to go is actually many places built by us. See #1 above.
  3. We should link freely from our sites to other sites we like.  This, literally, helps rebuild the hyperlinked network of threads that gives The Web it’s name.
  4. Discovery, and search, will sort itself out, if we do #1,2, and 3.  We may have to relearn how to surf the web again, and that is not a bad thing.
  5. Over time, we will eventually adapt to #4: humans will index this New Web we build using both old ways and new ways that have yet to invented.  And yes, machines are also likely to index it as well.  We may end up with 5,6, 10 or more favorite places we go to search and that is good.

I hope I am interpreting Simon’s thoughts fairly and accurately.  I wanted to highlight them before that thread fades away.

How to Start

It’s not a pipe dream.  It is ridiculously easy to make a website these days.  You don’t need to know HTML.  If you want to blog go to Micro.blog or WordPress.com.  If you do not want to blog and would prefer a static website, again go to WordPress.com, because it’s just as easy to build a static site there and omit the blog.

(Example: On my to-do list is to build a static website for my neighborhood’s Little Free Library.  It only needs to be 1 – 3 static pages.  I’m going to build it on WordPress.com.  It should not take long.)

The point is, everyone has some skill, idea, knowledge that is worth sharing and equally, there are other people looking for the information you have in your head and take for granted.  Share it. We need to build that alternative.

Of course not everyone is going to build a website.  But more of us should be.  More of us can, we just don’t know how.

Pro Tip: With Micro.blog you can build your own website/blog almost by accident, while you are posting to social networks.  Just use it to post away, the blog (website) just builds itself.  No effort.  🙂  Example: Mumblings by Simon Woods is a Micro.blog blog.

More posts on ideas for websites in future posts.

Feel free to add to the discussion: agree? disagree? please comment.