Project Chaos Part 1
This article will be the first one of an ongoing story, I’ll try to document my journey on this project through posts, probably shorter than the usual ones.
So, I’ve got this group or tabletop role player that I know for 15 years through different instanciation of the same internet community. It’s the group of people I know for the longest time (for almost half of my life until now) and as all online community it’s shaped by the tools we use (and the tools we use are shaped by our community).
There were the bulletin board like forums (phpBB then fluxBB), both of them managed by the techies (not me) and a third iteration based on drupal. And facebook. Because before 2007 we used the bulletin board forums as a way to keep in touch, to plan parties or to help each other.
Since the facebook happens, the forum mostly turned to be a game-lore database, all the social thing slowly moved over there. And then the forum started to slowly die.
Also, Shadowrun, the game we used to play, gone through some editorial crisis, the new edition has been heavily criticized and some personal dramas did technically killed this forum and group of friends.
They’re still in touch through Facebook, Google cloud sharing services and stuff like that. But since I won’t get there I’ve been a little bit ostracized (not that I really mind, I love my loneliness) but this community was not a community anymore. We ended up with half a dozen of people doing all the community services, while all the others are just feasting on it.
Typical of communities of that age I think. Some of us moved far away, other are having babies, but still, internet tools were supposed to help us to stay in touch.
For the last two years, we did however launch a lot of meetups in different places. And I fighted the uses of google docs to the profit of free alternatives such as etherpad and ethercalc (more than enough for our use case of writing down recipes and errands to run to feed 30 people) with some success.
And then came the sharing. We’re sharing a lot of music and playlists. Especially when you want to run a game, you’re always looking for some atmosphere, so we talk a lot about music (I mean, a 6hours long game is 6 hour of music non stop, you need to find some). The thing is, they want some of my music and, since I won’t use spotify nor google, we’re stuc with sneakernet. Reminds me high school where we exchanged tapes, but with USB hard drive of more than one terabyte.
So, they wanted to share, including what politicians would call illegal files. And, in what sounds like a surprise – but interesting – move, they want to do it themselves (OK, they want me to get involved and helps them) but they want to self-host their stuff.
10 years of advocating free software. 5 of advocating for getting out of social centralized web. 2 after setting up a social network for our characters. 1 after showed them how powerful free and decentralized software can be, they asked me to helps them build a community sharing server.
So, we’re currently writing down what we want and need, using etherpad and calcs. There will be a lot of learning implied, and some code to write. But at least, we’re going to do it together.
And yes, they actually asked me to show them how to administrate a server, even if it implies running a shell.
So this will be my log for this journey. I hope we’ll reach the destination. Theres adventures to come, but I have faith in their motivation.