Data as an Appliance

As Chickaree is coming along, I thought I should give a bit of an update of where we are headed and some new ideas I've had. One of the looming issues for this service is how to syncronize data between devices. At first, I was thinking I could create a stop-gap solution and let users sync their subscriptions with OneDrive (or something like that). I've realized that this is a waste of development time. What is needed is a full-fledged storage engine and an Open Source Software as a Service (Open SaaS) for a user to have a "workspace" to store all of their social data.

Having an engine like this would make it possible for apps to store structured data in a way that is private and allows other applications to easily use the data. Giving users the power to control their own data, while at the same time giving businesses the ability to publish their own social content, is the heart of what Silk Floss is.

While I envision that the company will give away a free tier of service that will be completely private, I was talking with Wesley Lima who wondered if there was a market for people who want more features, greater freedom and privacy, but do not want to pay for an Open SaaS in perpetuity.  He challenged me to consider that people pay for all kinds of internet "appliances" in their home like a Google Nest or an Alexa. Of course, that doesn't mean they would pay for a device from our company, but he's not wrong, there may be a privacy-conscience, or price-conscience customer interested in such an appliance that fills that gap between the free tier and a full-fledged Open SaaS.

I thought about this a lot more and I was reminded of a tweet from Lance R. Vick

I just setup a closet rack to host my own email/matrix on my own property so communications within my family and friends stay between us on our own servers.

I was wondering to myself: How would we democratize that level of privacy where everyone's data stays... inside their own home?

I think the answer might be to create a Rasbery Pi type device that runs the full storage engine in microk8s (or something like it). Effectively, the user would be buying Silk Floss in a box. The customer would pay a one-time fee for the "appliance" and it would work for as long as it physically works for. The more I think about this, the more I like the idea. A lot of what I like about it, is not only the privacy aspects, but also the freedom aspects. It's a lot harder to shut down voices under authoritarian regimes if everyone hosts their own data.

I don't think this is something that will exist in the short term, but after the storage engine exists and the Open SaaS, I think an "appliance" that can be used in your own home, that requires almost no setup, is a really good idea to explore. I'm excited to see if a customer exists for a product like this.