home | blog | slides

indie.bs

Posted by Jason Rhodes on January 12th, 2015

Have you been following along with the indie project? A little over a year ago, when Aral Balkan (@aral) launched his project to empower humans and topple the closed silos of the internet world?

The big launch announcement is here - https://ind.ie/blog/1/ - and here are some excerpts:

The open web is lost.

...

... we are making an operating system. But not just any operating system. We are making a beautiful operating system that just happens to be open. An operating system that you own. We are making Indie OS.

...

We do not need yet another platform — open or not — on which to run the applications of the closed silos. So, we are creating a cloud. But not just any cloud. A cloud that you own. We are making Indie Cloud.

...

If we stopped there we couldn’t possibly compete with the likes of iPhone and Nexus. So we need a third thing to tie together the operating system and the cloud in a beautiful, seamless experience, that needs no technical knowledge to set up or to use.

And that is why we are making a phone.

Indie Phone.

...

Currently, we are bootstrapping. Next year, we are crowdfunding. And in 2016, we ship Indie Phone.

tl;dr: it's extremely important that we make a phone, and we're shipping it in 2016.


They raised a good amount of money on these promises from people who were sick over the Snowden revelations, over loss of privacy, over Aaron Swartz and WikiLeaks and Chelsea Manning and others. I wasn't in that camp necessarily, but I appreciate why many were.

Update (10/2015): I've since become far more sympathetic to all of these concerns. :(

What have they accomplished so far, over a year later? Reading through the blog posts at http://ind.ie/blog, here's a list:

You get the idea, I think. That's a lot of things. And it's not really clear where it's all headed in relationship to the original announcements, right?

Mixed in with all of these announcements and introductions are some really powerful, inspirational proclamations from Balkan himself, such as:

"We’ve set ourselves a mammoth task and yet it is a task that is entirely feasible with your continued friendship and support."

and

"An open source OS alone would be much easier, as would a personal server. But I simply do not see either of those options being sufficient in creating a seamless experience that can compete with the likes of iPhone or Nexus in the consumer space. The hardest road is the only road we can take and it has its sacrifices."

So today's entirely positive announcement about "focus" comes across as, well, a pile of bullshit.

http://ind.ie/blog/focus

Going forward, Ind.ie has just one product: Heartbeat.

And it's only going to be for OS X, with iOS support "coming soon", they hope. Pretty big shift, right? There's sort of a smug, condescending veneer over the whole post, too, as if they just discovered the ideas of "doing small things well" or "limited scope" for the first time, and are enlightening us all.

Instead of saying, oops, we fucked up, we bit off more than we could chew, we are reevaluating, we're sorry to our investors, etc., it's all wrapped up in tweets like this:

We appreciate your support but we will never pander to it. If we ever do, you’ll know that we’ve lost our way.

https://twitter.com/indie/status/554963547160342528

Or quotes from Keynes: https://twitter.com/aral/status/554987734184755201

I don't know why anyone would support this particular effort moving forward.


And to top it all off, in that focus post Balkan used the Charlie Hebdo shootings as partial support for the re-focusing decision. I just ... wow. It doesn't matter what his intent was there, sometimes you have to be aware enough to see outside of your intent.

Ugh. One last interesting tweet thread: https://twitter.com/thijs/status/531813416671780864

OK I'm done for now.

Warning: Comments ahead. Never read them.