I’m trying to eliminate software and services that lock me into a specific device manufacturer or device type. Instead I want to focus on services that can be used more easily across multiple devices. Email is one example: it doesn’t matter whether I’m using iOS, Android, or just a browser. I can still access my account when needed.

For posting to a wide audience, my blog will take precedence. This creates an easy way that anyone can follow what I’m up to without any other account necessary. Writings on the blog have the added advantage of being able to be moved at any time to a different platform without significant interruption. Comments are disabled by default, but may be enabled for some posts.

Mastodon will serve as ‘social media’ hub. This is preferable to Twitter/Facebook/Instagram since it does not depend on farming people for its continued existence. Mastodon also does not require an account to be able to view what is public on the platform; alternatively a post can be restricted to account holders that have been approved as “Followers”. The software is free and open to development by anyone. The main developer behind the project (currently) is supported by donations and sponsorships. Mastodon will be the place to engage in discussion, should any of my thoughts prompt someone to respond.

Direct communication can be accomplished via XMPP. This protocol is well known and under continuous development. Several popular communication platforms started out using this protocol and then closed off into their own system (Slack/Google Hangouts). The XMPP protocol is open, like email, and apps are actively developed for many platforms. Examples include ChatSecure and Monal on iOS, Conversations and Zom on Android, and Pidgin/Gajim/Adium on the desktop. There is even a web interface available at conversejs.org.

A secondary option for direct communication will continue to be email. I expect this will be available and familiar to almost everyone.

Each of these tools has benefits that the current popular services do not:

1. Each of these facilitates ownership of produced content. This is known as POSSE (Publish Own Site Syndicate Elsewhere). If I don’t like my current provider, I may switch. I can even roll my own, if I wish, either on a shared machine somewhere or on hardware in my own home.

2. If I were to choose to switch away from my current provider, all of my data is mine to move to a new location and pick up as if nothing changed. Each of these systems is built on free software and open data, allowing me to export my info and upload to any other provider with minimal effort.

3. These services are available across devices and operating systems. There are apps for Android, iOS, and any desktop system that support each of these tools. There are browser interfaces for the above tools. I am not locked into using Apple’s Mac + iPhone because that is the only way to access iMessage. I am not forced to use Facebook because that is the only way to access Messenger, or WhatsApp because their system is locked down.

4. All of the above can be set up on a domain I own. I can completely control my “name” on the web, as well as standardize it across the multiple services.