[Freedombox-discuss] Q & A: Kickstarter cash, scope of project

J David Eisenberg jdavid.eisenberg at gmail.com
Fri Feb 18 21:06:38 UTC 2011

The following is taken from the #freedombox IRC channel on 18 February
2011. The questions are from a number of people, and the answers are
from sullivan. I have put it into question-and-answer format. The text
 of the answers is exactly as in the channel, modulo a couple of
spelling corrections, capitalization, and additional punctuation here
and there for readability. Mr. Sullivan suggested that I post it to
the list in order to "get it out beyond the IRC room and keep it
available for next week's documentation and FAQ push"

Q: What is to be done with the kickstarter cash, and what is the scope
of the freedombox project? Will the goal be to get freedombox
prototypes produced and in the hands of lots of users, and would web
services supporting the project, like anonymous hosting, be part of

A: There is hardware we can use in the form of the various plug
computer and mesh routers out there, so "prototyping" isn't the goal
in the traditional sense. And there are lots of individual software
components we can build such a system from: dynamic DNS, tor, tahoe,
name your favorite.

The biggest part of the work is getting a team together with solid
integration and technical design skills so that we can start coming
together on general design ideas and roadmaps. Coordinating that is
the biggest role for the foundation at this step. But as we've all
seen, there are so many different places to start and so many
different angles, it is easy to get stymied and lose the initiative.
So the kickstarter goal is to get the foundation enough resources to
enable it to start filling that role.

Basically, we need some dedicated time from people and some support
activity to help them out; so there is that technical team, the legal
work overhead for doing things like building the foundation, some
design and press, the usual.

Q: How would the funds help? Would you hire people to do those?

A: There are a lot of people who have expressed interest in the
project, and even more firm commitments of time and effort, but it is
too easy for all of that to keep in a holding pattern with everyone
thinking that they will move after person X has moved or milestone X
has been reached. If we can raise this funding, it will enable us to
get some full time support and will shake up a lot of people who have
been interested, but who are not yet convinced that now is the right

Q: What full time support would be enabled? Do you have anything
particular in mind; do you know who you would hire?

A: I would highly recommend using another mechanism for encouraging
technical contributions rather than paying a full-time person. I.e.,
buying plug computers and sending them to developers who promise to
work on the project. I think we're open to all kinds of ways to help
out the development efforts. Everyone involved is firmly in the free
software world, so we're not going to turn into a startup and suddenly
think the only way to get work done is paying people to sit in
expensive chairs :)

That was part of the reason for creating the central coordination and
support organization, the foundation, as a non-profit (it is a
Delaware non-profit now and we'll be applying for IRS recognition as
soon as the paperwork is ready).

But, at the moment, everything that needs to get done to help with
that coordination and support work has to be done by either Eben or
myself in mostly spare time.

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