It was bound to happen; Google, as we have reported on these pages several times, have been cherry picking throughout its different service offerings. As you already know, Google has a wide and deep service portfolio. It has email, it had reader capabilities, and storage properties. In other words, Google has its finger in many pies but the reality of business is that you have to have a certain return on your investment or you’re just going to have to stop what you’re doing and leave your resources to something that produces a better return— basic business 101, no shame in that game. However, we do understand that if you put out a service out there and people like it, a community will build around it because people would need it and would have an emotional investment in it. It would ruffle more of some people’s feathers if you withdraw that service. That is just the way it is.
It is not surprising that many people were offended, hurt and disappointed when Google decided to shut down its highly popular news feed reader program called Google Reader. One enterprising programmer, 23 year old Jacob Cook, has come up with an idea that made a lot of industry observers intrigued. His philosophy is that there are many service providers out there that are providing services that people have gotten used to. We are at the mercy of this profit driven service providers to always keep these services available but as our experience with Google Reader, it has shown us that sometimes we are faced with situations that we are not in control. That is why Jacob Cook is coming up with an open source online service system where he would create an open source operating system that will run on your cheap Raspberry Pi hardware.
Raspberry Pi is like the Linux of hardware. It’s very cheap, smaller than the size of a credit card and it frankly enables people from all four corners of the world to come up with open hardware solutions so they can come up with their own little technological ecosystem. This is precisely what Jacob Cook is trying to do. His project is to build the genesis application. This is an open source software that provides a web based tool for people to control different services that they would like to run on their Raspberry Pi hardware. Just looking at the specifications of this project, it’s easy to tell that it is still in its very initial stages. Still, he has already publicized that he is trying to raise $45,000 so he can focus on this project full time. As of this post, he has already raised more than $5,000 in pledges towards that amount. It will be very interesting to see how this project pans out because there is a definite deed for this type of service. The question is how big is the need and how much people will answer his call. It is quite intriguing because it does answer a key need.
The problem here is that would there be enough people that would program all these open source services. Remember, he’s just building the platform, people would still have to come up with the services. His idea is for people to come up with these services and host them on the Raspberry Pi hardware. While this seems awesome and it does blow my mind as to the possibility of millions of these home brewed solutions just streaming custom services over the internet, the problem of course is that these home based servers must have a strong uplink. In other words, you can’t use a very slow DSL connection to provide this service. Still, the idea is very promising and it does touch a nerve in the geek in all of us because most of us in the technology world have this do it yourself type of attitude. We don’t want the government running our lives. We don’t want big companies making crucial decisions for us and we want a lot of choices and freedom. The libertarian in me is definitely intrigued by this development and we are wishing nothing but the best. We will definitely keep an eye out on this story as it develops further.