In order to be categorically more useful than commercial offerings, an open and free system must take advantage of functionality that is difficult or impossible in revenue-bound services.

Here’s a rough list of some advantages we can leverage in open systems:

Attack surface

Centralized systems are centralized attack points. Decentralized architectures can present a confoundingly elusive and vast attack surface that is an impractical target for any entity.

User control

Users of for-profit systems are not allowed full control of the interface they use, or users would be able to make changes incompatible with profitability.

User data

As social networks have leaned into data mining their users, they have become inextricably addicted to having access to this data. A decentralized system only needs to send data where the user has a need to send it.

Data locality

Using small networks local to their users instead of massive centralized network “hubs” through which all data passes results in fewer bottlenecks and lower resource consumption.


The complexity of a system that simply sends data where a user directs it is much lower than a system designed to do that in addition to generating revenue.

Schemes necessary to generate revenue have arbitrary complexity, while the essential needs of communication and information sharing can be met relatively easily. This reduced complexity should make it feasible to serve the majority of our information sharing, discussion, and collaboration needs using the hardware and network connections we already have.

Examples of open systems and why they dominate

  • programming languages - being closed hurts developer adoption and trust.
  • operating systems - being closed increases the cost and complexity of installation.
  • financial tools - being closed permits manipulation and censorship.
  • security tools - being closed hides important vulnerabilities.
  • social networks - companies exploit user data and insert advertisements and paid endorsements.