IRCNow Status of the Union

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All across the Internet, our rights online are being revoked. At the same time, the free and open source community is collapsing.

Now, more than ever, our network needs to continue the fight for our freedom. We must now lead the way in open innovation.

Let's dare to dream great so we can accomplish great things. Let's dare to build the open ecosystem of the future.

Will it be hard? Yes: all great things are hard. But an easy life is not worth living.

If we run away from hard work, a bolder and stronger network will do it, and take away from us our talented and bright minds.

If we choose only safe projects due to a fear of failure, our users will miss out on the job opportunities needed to survive.

But if we innovate, our network can become the cultural center of the free Internet.

You might ask, can a team of volunteers, a group of amateurs and hobbyists, produce software that can save the Internet?

Yes. In our lifetime, the free user community built an entire operating system by collaborating over the Internet. Their code surpassed what you could buy from the non-free world. Corporations may have money, but they can't pay enough to compete with a group of inspired users who work on what they love.

We did it before and we can do it again. And if we lead the way, we can make sure that we can make it stand for user freedom.

The Challenges Ahead

There are today many hard problems which are solved on non-free platforms, but which few free and open services exist:

  1. Universal Bridge: The free user community uses a dozen competing protocols: IRC, XMPP, Matrix, Email, NNTP, ActivityPub, etc. We need to provide bridges to connect protocols together where it makes sense. This can be done using plan 9.
  2. Replacement for Modern Web: We need a replacement that users have control over. Current mainstream browsers are non-free. The protocol 9p may provide the answer.
  3. Distributed/grid network: We cannot rely on Silicon Valley's cloud hosting. The free user community needs its own content distribution network, cloud hosting, and DDoS protection.
  4. Voice User Interface: We need a method to send text using our voice and have it interoperate with open protocols so users can write voice applications on an open platform.
  5. Computer Vision: We need an open platform that can accurately identify objects and text so users can quickly build computer vision applications, such translating signs and documents in real time.
  6. Natural Language Processing: Most users are still relying on non-free translation tools. A free and open replacement is needed. This will also be necessary for virtual assistant technology.
  7. Search: Better search tools to allow us organize information for protocols besides http.
  8. Virtual reality: Libre computer aided design (CAD) or libre virtual world software would make a huge impact.
  9. Free Market: Users need a global marketplace they have control over, especially one which offers alternative payment and shipment methods.
  10. Sharing services: User-controlled rideshare, courier, and hospitality services for the free world

We are encouraging teammates to explore these fields.

Here is the IRCNow roadmap for 2022.