Thursday, July 30, 2015 at 8:12 AM

How future-safe are your ideas?

People post big ideas to Medium. It's nice that they have the ideas, and that they share them on the web, but how long will these ideas be there?

I can still point to articles I wrote 20 years ago, in 1995.

Will the Big Think piece you just posted to Medium be there in 2035? That may sound like it's very far off in the future, and who could possibly care, but if there's any value to your writing, you should care. Having good records is how knowledge builds. If we're constantly starting over how can we pretend to be accomplishing anything other than self-promotion? Is that enough? Don't we need more value in our thinking?

When we look back at today from the future I expect we will see a big black hole. This period will not look like the renaissance it could be, rather it will be a void, nothing. What were people thinking in 2025? It will be impossible to know. Or it will be too dangerous to try to find out (read on).

A lot of what we say is controlled by large corporations, or by small ones that will be owned by large corporations. There isn't much interest, among the owners of Medium, for example, in owning something small and boutique-y 20 years from now. Either it will be huge, or it will be gone. And they may well have pivoted a dozen times before arriving at their eventual success. It's quite possible that the stories you write today will not be part of that future. Or worse.

Read this article about Sourceforge and what they're doing with open source projects that were entrusted to them. They're adding malware to the downloads. Had I asked you to think about this five years ago, how many people would have considered this possibility?

Do you still trust GitHub? Have they given you any assurances that they won't modify your projects in the future? Some developers think they're already doing it. We need to keep a careful eye on this. I'm trusting GitHub as if they are a neutral service for my shared source. If they're not, we need to know exactly what they think they're entitled to do with our projects and then decide whether we want to continue to trust them.

Right now there isn't a good answer. But there are some very bad answers. The current crop of VC-backed repositories, from Medium to GitHub, have big question marks on them. If you value speech, in all forms, safe from future interference, you should be helping get the answers yourself.

More on this to come subject.

Last built: Mon, Aug 24, 2015 at 9:04 AM

By Dave Winer, Thursday, July 30, 2015 at 8:12 AM. It's even worse than it appears.