What is OpenCola?

OpenCola is:

Overall, OpenCola is a reaction to the current state of the Internet, where a small number of companies has extracted, captured and exploited the value of our personal data and relationships. It represents a paradigm shift in how we think about the Internet, by inverting the current power structure, putting you and your community in control. We believe that this is more in line with the original vision of the Internet as an environment where everyone can participate and benefit equally.

Where do I get the application?

Mac OS Windows Linux

Sounds great, but what does OpenCola actually do?

As mentioned above, the first application we built is a collaborative media tool that can be thought of as an alternative to big tech social media. The feed looks like:

On top of providing you with similar features to existing social applications, OpenCola offers the following benefits:

What do you mean by trust?

OpenCola is built to maximize trust in the following dimensions:

Each of these principles is largely minimized by companies whose objective is to maximize profit. These trust principles also serve to enable freedom in a number of ways that are essential to a healthy society:

So why should I trust OpenCola?

Fair question. We’ve all been burned too many times. Companies have been telling us what trust is and that we should just trust them for a long time.

The above trust principles guide how we operate and what we build. That is why we are a non-profit company, our code is open source that you are free to modify to best fit your needs, and your data is not visible to us. We can never extract the value of your networks or information and exploit it for profit, nor can anybody else (unless that’s what you want).

In order to make things easy to use, we provide some centralized services, but we provide you the means to run everything on your own.

OpenCola is also free, in the freedom sense - you can take what you like, modify it, sell it, and we can never take it away. It will run as long as your device operates.

We believe that true competition requires competition of incentive models. We reject the belief that obscene corporate profit equals consumer good. We are guided by maximizing trust rather than seeking metastasized growth to satisfy investors and shareholders.

How does OpenCola address issues created by social media?

Who are you, and why are you building OpenCola?

We are people that are tired of the state of the Internet and would like to help fix it, because it’s a problem worth solving, even if we don’t make loads of money doing so. The founders of OpenCola all worked at the original OpenCola, founded in 1999, which was building something similar in spirit, but was unfortunately too far ahead of its time. We’ve all gained a lot of experience and seen what the Internet has become and would like to do what we can to steer it in the right direction.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you stop bad people from using OpenCola?

We don’t. Anything we do to monitor or control activity requires invading privacy and undermines our trust values. Every technology has unintended consequences. The Internet enables bad things, but if you’re reading this, then you’re using it, despite the fact that people can do bad things with it, likely because you believe that it brings more good than harm. Similarly, we believe that the world is better with OpenCola than without it, even if people use it in ways that we don’t support.

Does OpenCola address “Filter Bubbles”?

Yes and no. Since people, rather than algorithms, control the flow of information, algorithmic filter bubbles are not an issue. But people have their own biases and preferences, which can also lead to filter bubbles as well as “echo chambers”. These are social, not technical issues, that we believe cannot be fixed by forcing people to consume information that they disagree with. Who or what would even decide what people should see? Certainly not us. We believe that the trust environment provided by OpenCola, which is less polarized, is more likely to open minds than anything offered by ad driven, for profit companies or any algorithmic / technological solution.

How do you connect with people you don’t know?

Traditional social media has a loose trust model, which allows people to connect with or follow other people with little or no permission required. With OpenCola, because we’re focused on trusted connections, currently both ends of a connection need to agree to share information. As publishing is a useful activity, though, we intend to support a publisher model, where you can create personas that can be connected to by anyone.

While technically simple, the question then becomes should we support searching for publishers? This opens the door to verification problems, so we think publishers would need to communicate their ids outside of OpenCola, like you do today when sharing an email address or any other social media id. OpenCola could then just host (cryptographically) verified details about publishers, including where information posted by the publisher can be retrieved.