Remember Picasa? There is no native application even today that comes close to it’s feature parity. But sadly it was discontinued in favour of a cloud application: Google Photos. What happened with Picasa also happened to millions of other applications around the same time Picasa was discontinued. The applications we use to run on our PC have moved to cloud. It makes sense from corporations perspective because they get more control over updates, user data and licenses but users are at huge disadavantage as they no longer are in control of their own data. You might ask why that is such an issue? Let’s see:
Consider this, you carefully curate your playlists on Spotify but every now and then you see a certain song missing from your playlist. Same goes for videos saved in your YouTube playlists or other music/video streaming services. Then there is also the case of OTT streaming platforms where the show you were going to watch over weekend has now disappeared. If this was not bad imagine what happens when you need document from your email but the provider has suspended your account because of something you did (which was not even violation of terms of service) on other service of that email provider. Hacker News is littered with such stories. There are some stories where the user never figured out what they had done wrong to deserve suspension of account.
Then there is this whole different problem of corporations tracking you and your data. Whenever I bring this up people are like “I don’t care, I have nothing to hide”. But this is exactly similiar to saying “I don’t care about free speech because I have nothing to say”. Would you give up your right to free speech because you have nothing to say? No. The same goes about right to privacy. The data you share is used to cater you personalized ads. That same data is also used to ensure that you spend maximum time with the particular service. There are millions of engineers across the world who are getting paid hefty sum to keep as many eyeballs as possible glued to service offered by their employers. This engineering talent is supposed to be solving world’s problems but instead they are ensuring how everyone wastes their time. That’s a whole different topic for another blog post.
What self hosting does is it protects you against all these issues and more. It gives you the peace of mind by keeping you in control of your data. You can choose if you never want your data to leave your premises or home. You can also choose to make your data available to you whenever or wherever you want it securely. In upcoming posts, we will explore self hosted applications and how they protect you and your data. But if you cannot wait, head over to r/selfhosted or check out this awesome self hosted list to get started with your self hosting journey.
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