Today I had a chance to attend part of the 3rd Annual Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit, the Desktop Workgroup. The general topic we discussed was the relationship between the desktop and the cloud.
One of the things covered in the minitalks was Tomboy, an open source note app. First off, I had no idea that Tomboy existed, and I desperately need it...I have lots of info squirreled away as email drafts, in Google Docs, and as items in Google tasks and TeuxDeux, not to mention the stuff that goes in physical notebooks and on my hands. But seeing as all the apps I currently use for notes are web-based and Tomboy is desktop-based, what about when I'm on the go? Well aside from using its syncing feature to connect multiple systems, Snowy is in the works. (The name comes from Tintin's dog, as the original icon for Tomboy was a drawing of Tintin.) From the link: "Snowy is a web application for synchronizing, viewing, sharing, and editing your Tomboy notes online." This tickles me. It also uses Django, which I want to explore.
Other minitalks were on StatusNet (see Identi.ca also) and Mozilla Weave. I liked the StatusNet philosophy that the goal is not to replace proprietary applications (in their case, Twitter) but to offer open alternatives. A lot of things online are free: Facebook, Twitter, and a whole slew of Google applications. And a lot of users don't care if they are open--they're free, that's all they need. On top of that, many free online apps are "fopen" (used by a presenter, meaning faux open) so developers don't really care either--they have a solid API to work with, that's all they need. So what should be the goals for free software in the web-app world?
Some people were narrow-minded, focusing only on enterprise (Along the lines of "Why do businesses care if their online doc apps are open or not? Why bother with web-apps?") or so tied to the AGPL that they used words like "evil" to describe proprietary software. Discussion strayed onto Ubuntu One and why it's server-side software isn't currently open, and accusations and moral declarations were flung around the room. As a result, Dave Neary made an excellent comment about how some things are accepted as morally bad, like murder and spamming, but that there is also obviously a gray area. How do we interact, have productive conversations, and collaborate with people who have different views on what is evil (or good)? This obviously applies to more things than open-source software.