While it is nice that Heise and even Spiegel Online (not to mention great publications in the US as well) are writing positively about ownCloud, I have yet to see an article that captures my personal motivation for working on it. Most articles mention the NSA and how great it is to reclaim the control over your data.That certainly is true. But while ownCloud Inc. is concentrating on file synchronization and solving the Dropbox problem, I think the ownCloud community has set out to do a lot more.
Looking at the apps repository you can easily recognize one google app replacement after another: calendar, contacts, mail, maps, news, music, pictures … even documents. Or the Android app. So much for the googleverse. All in all that is a solid foundation on which to get self-hosting again. My main motivation.
Replacing the googleverse is far from easy. And I certainly am aware of their search capabilities. I already started working on a lucene-based full text search of the users files and we will be redesigning ownCloud search for OC7. Maybe at some point in the future someone will start integrating yacy.
Microsoft started integrating their outlook.com accounts with their operating system and allows users to login with an online account. With Gnome and KDE the two big linux Desktop environments also have started integrating ownCloud. Not only as a contacts or calendar backend but also as a music source for Rythmbox / Amarok. That’s only the start…
The nice thing is that ownCloud faces so many challenges, so many opportunities to experiment with the next technology stack, over-hyped framework or whatnot that I’ll never run out of ideas to try out next. Another huge motivation for me: it keeps my mind busy.
All the related projects and technologies bring me to another motivation: choice. Should I get bored customizing ownCloud, I can always shift my focus to working on a specific app. That already happened and I meanwhile worked on the gallery, search_lucene, music and the files app among other. Should I ever get bored writing PHP I can always go back to Java and work on the Android app, learn Objective-C with the iOS app or maybe C# with the Windows Phone app. I might even shift my attention to the Mirall desktop client which is C++ and Qt. Anything is possible.
The right thing
Faced with data silos like Google, Facebook and Dropbox I fear the power these services could assert over any of their users. I don’t care if their motto is “Don’t be evil” or whatever nice claim they might come up with. The fact is that humans work there and that other humans have access to my personal data. And humans can do very irrational things.
While the commercial where a father manages a google account for his child until it grows up as some kind of lifelog is touching … it is also frightening. Very frightening. Your whole life digitized. Searchable. Machine readable. A double edged sword if you ask me.
Who would you want to hold it? Someone who earns money by giving away your very personal information? I know the answer to that. And I will do anything I can to allow future generations to wield their own sword.
Join the community
I already became medieval so let me rephrase the above: “Brace yourself! Winter is coming.” I laid out my personal motivation. Maybe one of them resonates well with your own. Help us shape the future and join the ownCloud community. Start by installing ownCloud now!