Big free web services are all the rage these days. Webmail started it years ago, with Rocketmail, Hotmail, Yahoo Mail, Bigfoot Mail, etc. Flickr has been a darling for several years now, and blog services are hot. A friend is working on a password manager called 7dots, and I know of several todo and contact list managers.
I’ve always avoided services such as these for a variety of reasons. One is that I don’t like giving my personal information to a megacorp, however little I have to give, or however much the promise to play nice with it. Another is that I don’t want to have my stuff wrapped in their ads and design when I show it to people. The ads bother me less than the design. If I’m going to have a web gallery, I want it to look like the rest of my site, not like a flickr theme. 7dots is going to be a passwd manager. If anyone other than someone I know and trust were building it, there’s NO WAY I’d trust it. That’s some scary stuff right there.
On the other hand, I’m lazy, and don’t really have time to build this stuff on my own. And the people who make these services are (relatively) rich, and can afford to build in all kinds of features I don’t have the time or knowledge to do. I use Flickr because I can send images directly from my cell phone to the web, and then deliver them to my website via an rss feed. That’s slick. I think I could build it, if I had lots of spare time.
I don’t use webmail because I don’t like webmail. Gmail’s cool, but it’s still webmail. On the other hand, it would be cool to offer a gmail style interface to my wife, without having gmail Know All about her email.
What I’d really like is to see stuff like flickr, 7dots, gmail, etc, offered as open source packages I could download and install. Sure, there’s stuff like squirrelmail, but have you compared squirrelmail to gmail recently? Please. Gallery’s cool, but it doesn’t do the trick of taking pics from a pop account and putting them someplace nice. Even the rss feed in gallery kinda bails.
Anyone know of a phplib to grab pics from a pop account?
Anyway, I’ve been thinking about this stuff for years actually, and I don’t really have a point or conclusion. I just feel like, why should I use a free service full of ads that may or may not stick around and has limitations when I could install or build something myself? Because the services have more features. Why? Why is there not free stuff just as good that can be downloaded?