I’ve been talking about the need to decentralize the Internet. Unfortunately handing so much power to a handful of domestic companies has proven to be a boon for the surveillance state. This is one of the reasons why I self-host most of my online services. I don’t like the current centralized environment and am therefore trying to walk the walk in decoupling myself from large service providers. Admittedly the current environment makes things like self-hosted e-mail questionably useful in most cases, mostly because almost everybody uses Gmail and therefore most email ends up on Google’s servers anyways, it does demonstrates the feasibility of a strategy (and as I wrote elsewhere every revolution has a humble beginning).
For the purposes of this post I’m going to create a phrase that’s probably already being used unknown to me: micro hosting. Micro hosting is an idea that came to me at AgoraFest after hearing a speaker urging agorists to develop a million one dollar ideas instead of one million dollar idea. A micro host is some schmuck like me with a server, a business Internet connection, and knowledge in system administration providing services to a handful of people. The key to this model is that you have a million small hosts providing services instead of one large host. Decentralization not only makes it more difficult for the State’s surveillance apparatus but also makes it difficult for the state to enforce it’s massive number of regulations.
Another advantage to this model is that it could finally weaken the grip advertising has on Internet services. Each host is obviously free to develop whatever business model they choose. For people like me that business model would involve getting paid by users instead of advertisers. Under such a business model privacy becomes a feature instead of a liability since convincing customers to pay for your service over, say, Google’s would likely require assurances that you’re not snooping through their communications for advertising purposes.
Recently I’ve put out feelers to people I know who are concerned about privacy to see if there’s an interest amongst them to have me host their e-mail for a small charge. Surprisingly there has been quite a bit of interest in not just e-mail but other services as well. Since I’m already running the services the overhead of hosting more people is pretty minimal. In other words this makes for a great agorist business idea since the risks are fairly minor and the prospect of turning a profit exists.
As I move forward with this this plan I’ll post updates. My reason for this is to inspire other agorists, specifically to start a small business such as a micro host. An additional reason, of course, is to inspire other people who may not be agorists to start a micro host to help decentralize the Internet.