In early 2013, Geary asked for $100,000 to build a mail client and stalled. Six months later, Mailpile did the same and the world could hardly hand over money fast enough. The difference? Edward Snowden.
…OK, there are a few other differences. Like Geary, Mailpile promised a Gmail-ish sleek design with fast search. While Geary is a GNOME app (which is not necessarily an exciting prospect for Windows or Apple users), Mailpile is a web-based client.
The Mailpile team of 3 is based in Iceland. Their fun campaign certainly struck a chord, as they reached their target well before deadline. During their campaign mail host Lavabit shut down rather than comply with a request to turn over their private security keys to the FBI. They had so much money pouring in that Paypal froze their account. Undoubtedly the extra coverage from that event didn’t hurt, either. As well as hundreds of individuals, Mailpile won support from many companies as well.
From the start the Mailpile team had their eyes turned towards the long-term. Donating $23 or more made one a member of the Mailpile community. These members
get to have a say in the long term direction of the project. When we aren’t sure what features to work on next or need to make some other major decision, we will seek input from the Mailpile Community…. This is the Mailpile business model. As long as members of our community are willing to fund development (we will ask you to renew your membership in a years’ time), we will dedicate ourselves to Mailpile and build the secure web-mail client you want.
Their website lists the current status of development of various features. Their roadmap written shortly after the close of the campaign listed January 2014 as the goal for an “alpha release”. Their alpha release was launched on February 1 at FOSDEM (although it still requires installing from source) and on their website have hosted a demo.
Slides (pdf) from Bjarni Rúnar Einarsson’s launch of the Mailpile campaign
“Snake: the privacy-aware social network. An end-to-end encrypted social network that is easy to use and protects your privacy from evil hackers, storage providers and overly curious government agencies.”
The campaign page states that the team has a “serious design document and about 20k lines of code of the prototype implementation”.
Diaspora promised itself to be the ultimate free software Facebook-killer, and in the process became a blockbuster – the second biggest Kickstarter project ever, at the time. Four university students were inspired to spend their summer building privacy-focused social networking software that gave the user control, after listening to a speech by Eben Moglen.
While software has been produced, after the runaway success of the initial campaign and subsequent pressure to produce a result, the project has struggled to gain traction with a critical mass of users.
The campaign was in June 2010. The first “pre-alpha” release of the software was September 2010, although that was marred by security problems. In June 2011, Google launched Google Plus, with many commentators noting the similarity of Google Plus concepts to those in Diaspora. In November 2011 one of the original founders, Ilya Zhitomirskiy, committed suicide. In August 2012, the founders announced that they were handing Diaspora over to the community.
Much has been written about Diaspora! Here is a selection. For more check out the Diaspora wiki.
MediaGoblin is a “free software media publishing platform”, a free alternative to many popular sites: YouTube (video), Flickr (photos), SoundCloud (audio) and the like. It aims to support truly decentralized publishing and sharing. It was borne from a Free Software Foundation meeting in 2008, recognising the lack of response in the free software space to popular commercial web-based media hosting and sharing sites. Minor releases were made up until October 2012 when the crowdfunding campaign began. There was a stated aim to reach v1.0 by the end of the campaign-funded development period.
The campaign reached over 70% of its goal amount, but as the campaign did not follow the “threshold pledge” model of Kickstarter, it has still enabled significant work to be completed. Chris Webber, the main developer, chose to work on MediaGoblin full time for a year (as was the aim of the original target). Webber previously worked as a software engineer at Creative Commons.
Since the fundraiser ended, as of January 2014, 5 major versions of the software have been released. Code is hosted at Gitorious. Releases have added support for 3D models, documents, specifying media file licenses, media file gelocation, and improved plugin architecture. Development of an Android app has also begun. The project hosted several interns as part of Google Summer of Code / GNOME Outreach Program for Women in the middle of 2013.