I use Whatsapp and Element,
Zoom and Bigbluebutton,
Facebook and Mastodon.

Is there a name for those of us with a foot in both worlds? Who struggle to reconcile pragmatism and progress?


@douginamug Not an answer, but Whatsapp and Element are basically on the same side of the spectrum. Yes Element is open source and in theory uses an open protocol, but it's still a giant VC company that built its supposedly open protocol as a way to shut down other open protocols and then only created a "foundation" to manage it later after a lot of criticism (and the foundation is controlled by all the same people who control the company). Anyways, rant over, but I'd stay away from Matrix.

@sam Yes, this is not a direct response to my post.

Debating the relative merits/deficits of Element/Matrix _is_ interesting to me, but I think it highlights the issue: for me it's not a choice. I need to use Whatsapp and Signal and Element and Instagram and Briar and whatever else the people in the groups I move between use.

@douginamug Sure, I'm not chastising you for using VC based things, just saying that I wouldn't put Element on the other side of that.

@sam please don't be offended when I say that this is the purism I struggle with.

My post was to bring attention to x, and you are bringing attention to relative FOSS purity.

(p.s. please do link me to an article which lays into matrix/element, will read)

@douginamug I get what you're saying, but I'm not saying "don't use Element" or "be pure and use something better", just pointing out that Element is literally exactly the same (VC funded and trying to shut down other open source stuff). Use what you want though.

@douginamug (although I also realize I did say "I'd stay away from Matrix", but I mean that personally and if you are trying to go to the other side of that spectrum, that part may have been poorly worded, so fair enough, the confusion was my bad)

@sam fine, but I still think it's a cynical take.

VC-ness is one (very important) dimension.

Open-source-ness and decentralization are two others.

@douginamug I agree in theory, but if it's VC controlled instead of community controlled the others will go away the moment they decide they can make more profit by locking in the users. I don't see any possible way around this. I'd personally much rather use a closed-source project run by a community owned co-op, for example than an open source project run by a VC firm because the former doesn't have as much constant pressure to do anything it can to make a few extra bucks for the investors.

@douginamug @sam I'd also like to read that Matrix critique. The last one that made the rounds was lots of FUD combined with antisemitic whispering...

@acka47 @douginamug I'm not aware of any articles or anything, but if you find any I'd love to give them a read too

@sam @acka47 LinkedIn shows it's still private, and somewhere on the element site it clearly says they're for profit.

You're damn right Sam: it's going to become an issue :(

@douginamug Why would it be an issue? The protocol is handled by the Matrix foundation. matrix.org/foundation/

This model is quite similar to that of Wordpress, which seems to work rather fine.

It would actually be less ethical to use a non-profit's resources to do what EMS does. For example, bridges to #MicrosoftTeams are useful for the companies which still use it, but using donor money to help people use proprietary software would be an unethical gift to corporations.

@nemobis the danger is something like gmail dominating email...

matrix.org is the biggest instance, and seems to have strong connections with element (the privatefor-profit)

@douginamug Ok. Yes, that's an issue, but it's acknowledged by #Matrix /EMS, which is addressing it by making federation easier and faster. (Source: their FOSDEM talks, IIRC.) See also:

The over-reliance on a single provider would be an issue whatever its funding and corporate structure (it's an issue for #Mastodon too), but it's less of an issue if the funding is sustainable. Unprofitable startups rely on future high margins; when they switch to profiting, havoc ensues.

@sam @douginamug Looking at Element vs Matrix Foundation the overlap is the two founders, but there are differences.

@bob sure, they've added people, but it's still just a figleaf to give the company a tiny bit more respectability and make it look less VC controlled. When the VC folks say jump, they'll still jump.

@sam @douginamug Element is just one of many Matrix clients. If you don't like it, use other client. There are plenty of clients created by community members.

It IS built by a for-profit company (EMS) but that doesn't make it evil.
It's a normal way to pay salary for the developers, testers and UX designers involved.

Also, what do you base "shut down other open protocols" on? That sounds plain FUD.


@cos @douginamug Sure, but the same people control the protocol too, it's not developed by a real open standards organization. They also spent a long time going to conferences and spouting made up stuff about other protocols (XMPP, IRC, etc.) that was just false and they knew it because they'd obviously studied how those protocols worked, that's what I was basing the "shut down other protocols on". Just the usual corporate marketing things.

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