[smc-discuss] WhatsApp and mental torture in school communities

Nandakumar Edamana nandakumar at nandakumar.co.in
Sat Jun 6 18:18:07 PDT 2020

Agree. Just for clarification:

1. I'm not a person looking for convenience over freedom. I started
using GNU/Linux on my machine from the very first day I got one, and
that was only because I liked the philosophy. GNU/Linux was not at all
friendly back then, and even though it had several technical advantages,
I knew none of them (except that GNU/Linux didn't get attacked by
viruses, which I now know is an incorrect statement). More recently, I
have spent days and months setting up alternatives so that I can ditch

2. I talk about convenience just because we have to consider the people
who don't want the kind of freedom we are talking about, or for whom
freedom is a different thing. This part of the community can hijack the
whole process, brainwash freedom-lovers, and we don't want to leave
reasons for them to pick up.

3. When did I say Matrix is hard to use? How can I say it is hard if I
haven't tried it? I do not use any kind of IM app, not even Signal.
That's why I said I don't know how Matrix works. The only digital
personal communication I have is email. I said "complications" in my
first reply to you because I thought you were referring to schools
running servers. When it comes to KITE running an instance, there is no

4. Don't say me convenience isn't a thing. Then why the homepage of
poddery.com says "Riot is a client side application with slack like
interface..."? Why is Slack mentioned there (I believe you're referring
to Slack, not slack, which doesn't make any sense)? Because people want
something to connect with. When people ask 'is it like WhatsApp', if we
can't say 'yes, but better' in the first sentence, they won't listen
anymore. I'm happy whether the solution is Matrix or anything else you

5. I **personally** am not a fan of decentralization unless it's to the
device-level, because it feels like nobody is in charge, although it's
all about making you feel like "you're in charge". Think about
Wikipedia. Yes, there are thousands of MediaWiki instances running out
there, but we only need one Wikipedia instance. If it ever gets
problematic, we can then spawn another one.

6. The real solution is the govt. setting up a freedom-respecting chat
service instance. But what will you recommend until that's accomplished?
Asking people to stick with WhatsApp? That's why I recommended Signal.
Until the govt gets its solution ready. How can any other decentralized
solution (not hosted by the govt because they haven't and not hosted by
the schools because they can't) be better than Signal? For a user, any
global centralized solution and local centralized solution are both equal.

7. This is what I'd like to recommend to the govt: "Develop/host your
own messaging service, and until that's done, encourage people to use
any libre and privacy-respecting solution, and let anybody who isn't
interested keep away. You can never force someone to use a specific
private, proprietary app run by a foreign company known for collecting
and misusing the private information of users."

On 06/06/20 10:34 pm, Pirate Praveen wrote:
> On Sat, Jun 6, 2020 at 10:09 pm, Nandakumar Edamana
> <nandakumar at nandakumar.co.in> wrote:
>> You've already convinced me. It's about convincing the community. But we
>> have to do it.
> That is the challenge, yes.
>>>>  What I think now needs is a drop-in alternative for WhatsApp or
>>>> nobody
>>>>  would be ready to try. Govt hosting a Signal instance is one
>>>> solution,
>>>>  and the other I suggested is using the official Signal for the time
>>>>  being. Does your recommendations qualify the "drop-in alternative for
>>>>  WhatsApp" criteria? I'm asking this because I've little knowledge in
>>>>  mobile chat apps.
>>>  The use of WhatsApp is to send messages in groups, group for each
>>>  class where parents and students are there. Why do we need exact
>>>  replacement of WhatsApp?
>> By a "drop-in replacement", I mean as friendly as it is.
>>>  Was GNU/Linux and exact replacement for Windows when we switched to
>>>  GNU/Linux in schools?
>> No, but both are at least operating systems. So if people like a chat
>> app, what we suggest as an alternative should also be a chat app.
> Matrix is a chat protocol and there are many chat apps that works with
> matrix. Riot is the most popular and feature complete app. There is
> Fluffy Chat which is said to be more user friendly than riot (I have
> not tested it yet, just installed it). There is nheko and fractal on
> the desktop. Basically, being Free Software we can always make it
> convenient.
> If you want convenience and Freedom and you start with convenience,
> you will never have both. But if you start with Freedom, you can
> always make it convenient.
>>>  Do you think WhatsApp to a matrix client will be a harder switch than
>>>  GNU/Linux to Windows?
>> I don't know. I don't even know what Matrix is (I've tried reading about
>> it at times, but I lost).
> This another problem, many in the Free Software community willing to
> give up Freedom in the name of communicating with others (I'm not
> saying stop using WhatsApp immediately, but they refuse to use Matrix
> even to communicate with other Free Software users and hence they
> don't even consider Matrix as an option when it comes to recommending
> it to others, like you are doing now - how can I recommend something I
> don't use?).
> When it comes to using software for daily use, they let their contacts
> who don't care about Freedom to make the choice. Yes running multiple
> clients may drain your battery more and eat more disk space, but if
> people who are not convinced about Freedoms don't take the extra
> effort to promote these apps, who will do it?
> This love towards convenience over freedom among the Free Software
> community is what is making us lose the battle. In the early days of
> GNU/Linux, it was chosen for freedom and not convenience and it was
> very hard to get GNU/Linux installed on a machine, still people
> installed.
>>>  In Kerala, switch to GNU/Linux happened not because teachers thought
>>>  it would be easier, but they were convinced by the philosophy and they
>>>  were willing to take the effort to fix all the problems. If you are
>>>  trying to sell convenience, we already lost the battle.
>> I admire these words. But my personal policy is, if the convenient
>> alternative you have is libre, promote it first and let them know about
>> other (more) libre solutions eventually. This is not about installing OS
>> on school machines where you can talk about philosophy; this is about
>> installing apps on one's phone. What if one says "it's my phone and I
>> don't care about freedom and privacy"? We still lost the battle.
> I'm comparing the level of difficulty here. Is it technically harder
> to click on install button in play store than install GNU/Linux on a
> machine?
> This is the problem with selling convenience, even slight efforts are
> frowned upon.
>> The only reason I'm still appearing in favor of Signal (or any similar
>> centralized solution) is that, we need a drop-in replacement, like right
>> now, just to mention while arguing against WhatsApp. The final solution
>> of course would be developing or hosting a custom platform, but first we
>> need some "proof of concept" to show.
> In that approch, people will be stuck on Signal. I have seen this as
> people stuck on Telegram and not moving over to Matrix when it was
> available. Matrix works well and already have many client
> implementations.
>>>>  BTW, from what I've learned, Telegram has an extremely bad reputation
>>>>  when it comes to security and privacy, despite being libre at the
>>>>  client-side. Is there any reason for anyone to prefer Telegram over
>>>>  Signal?
>>>  People use it as a file sharing app, I think they allow upto 2GB files
>>>  to be shared. Also it can be bridged to Matrix so you are not forced
>>>  to use Telegram to participate in telegram groups.
>> Thanks for the info.
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Nandakumar Edamana

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