[FoRK] Diaspora

Ken Ganshirt @ Yahoo ken_ganshirt at yahoo.ca
Mon May 17 22:53:39 PDT 2010

--- On Tue, 5/18/10, Tom Higgins <tomhiggins at gmail.com> wrote:

> > For the record I started using usenet sometime in the early 80's. In 1984 I became one of the earliest members of Fidonet
> Fido was so far ahead of the times both in terms of doing cool things
> with common tools, a sort of open sort[1] of distributed set up, and
> the tragedy of the commons along with the high drama of the guardians
> etc etc etc. Very cool stuff that was and is inspiring even now.

Lots of cool tools. I think the mail readers were even ahead of what was available for usenet at the time. And it was way cool to be able to actually attach files rather than having to uuencode them.

The secret is open standards. Fidonet has a set of Fidonet Technical Standards (FTS) that were a ripoff of the RFC docs (not so much in their contents as in their intent). Anyone who wants to build software to work in Fidonet just has to get a copy of the relevant standards and they're off and running. I served on the standards committee for a time. Working in the engineering department of a telco gave me access to some pretty sweet protocol analyzing equipment.

Yes, there was much drama in the "management" of it. There were a few control phreaques and drama queens. But it hardly ever had any significant effect on the operation and never any lasting effect. The motto for those of us who were mainly interested in moving mail was "Route around 'em". The beauty of a distributed system where each node is in control of its own routing ... someone gets annoying, just change the routing and go around 'em.

Nothing as effective at shrinking someone who's gotten too big for their britches than excommunicating them for a bit, no matter how high in the "heirarchy" they thought they were. Most Coordinators learned quickly that they served at the pleasure of those "below" them, topologically speaking, not the reverse.

Fortunately the vast majority just wanted to make it all work. And work it did. It was really exciting watching it take off outside North America and become truly a global thing.


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