What can I do today

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Many people ask what they can do today to lessen their dependence on larger internet providers, given they aren't necessarily hard-core geeks or have a lot of time or money to spend. Here is a partial list:

  • use open-source web applications whenever possible. E.g. use Wordpress instead of http://blogger.com/.
  • use your own domain, not somebody else's. The IndieWeb folks got that right. That way, links don't break when the third party changes business plans, or you want to move from them.
  • encrypt your e-mail. GPG requires some effort, but it is not a large one.
  • if you must store data in the cloud, store it on a place where it is easy to get out (say, https://Dropbox.com/ -- it's just a file system) instead of where it is hard to get out (say, the apps in Google Docs)
  • use decentralized applications whenever possible, e.g.
  • run open-source Linux, not Windows or OSX. Don't run anything that obviously is a part of somebody's strategy to take over the world.
  • run your own server, if you can. Run SMTP there, IMAP, your own calendar, address book, backup etc. etc.

If not, consider supporting a project that works on helping to make this possible. Some projects are listed here on the wiki.

Volunteering could be to write code, to test, even to donate some hardware for testing purposes.

Identifying one particular set of use cases -- say, photo hosting -- and trying to get them back under your control. Document what you investigated, what worked and what didn't. Link to your post from this wiki. It's all useful.

And tell others about it: the world can be different, and let's all work together to make it so.