Independence in digital era

Independence in digital era

The hardest part on being "Independent" in digital era was dealing with Storage layer. Independent means you don't rely on higher-level 3rd-party layer in operating some services.

Now, look at our phone. I've installed Telegram & WhatsApp, a messaging platform. Both apps are providing you some "security" by encrypting your text messages. The difference was your messages on Telegram are stored on Telegram servers (3rd-party, cloud) and your messages on WhatsApp are stored on your own devices.

That's why to open WhatsApp on desktop–per 03 Nov 2019–your phone need to connect to internet so you can use WhatsApp on desktop because all messages are stored on your phone, not WhatsApp server.

Difference with Telegram that you can access it anywhere, across devices, seamlessly. I will not talk about the encryption-thing here but above example are just to make sure you know the difference.

To backup your messages in WhatsApp, you need a "storage" layer. For example, on WhatsApp Android they rely on Google Drive, so your messages will be backed up there in unencrypted. Everytime you change your phone, your messages on WA will be same as your last backup even the "encryption-thing" are difference because they backed up your datas to 3rd party services in plain.

Difference with Telegram, you don't need to do a backup because Telegram already did it for you. Your messages are same across devices, in real-time. You don't need Google account or iCloud account, because the services you use don't rely on them.

Independent, why?

You need the exact reason in why you should being independent. If you are trust with the services, or you don't want to deal with complex thing, you should not being independent in this beautiful digital era.

In case you have the reason, you are welcome to continue read this.

All you need is a server, if your services are rely on internet connection.

Like this blog, which is self-hosted on my own server and managed by Docker. The server cost was about $5/mo, it quite cheap for orang miskin like me. I dealing with storage layer, security layer, etc because nobody did it to me.

For example, if you wont dealing with that–instead just want to focus on blogging–you can use Ghost Services for running blog with Ghost. You will never touching some uptime things, security things, backup things, scalability things, etc.

All you need is just fucking write the blog. The $29/mo will worth for you, trust me.

But, if you are developer; Tinkerer, curious with many things, give self-hosted way a chance. You will deal with database-layer, storage-layer, security-layer, application-layer, and even all abstractions layer in any level because you need to did it by yourself.

You don't need to self-host everything, just for the things you really care about.

How I deal with it?

I rely with 4 things: 3rd-party reliable (and secure) services, gpg, cron, and rclone. For this context, it was AWS S3.

Backing up some public static assets was quite easy, since it really doesn't need encryption. For example, like the source of posts in this blog, the images, anything.

For some private data–like database dump–I need to encrypt it (with gpg) and rclone "core functionality" is not works here (like incremental sync). Since its not big problem for me, I still enjoy with this workflow.

I'm interesting with Backblaze, but never brave enough to try it (in SLA things).

To "automate" things, I use crontab because its pretty easy (and reliable) for now.


I self-hosted many services, from the simple blogging platform to database-things and still counting. Per now, I don't use Spark anymore for some email things (That application has great UI, and native) but since Spark was 3rd party client (and services), now I don't use it anymore.

Dealing with built-in email client–like Apple Mail–never makes me enjoy. Now I'm using mutt to handle my email and it was more complex than ever.

But I love it, I love complexity.

I logged in into 2 email: iCloud & Yandex. I believe iCloud since Apple was not Software company™ (for now) and not sell any personal data as their business. For Yandex context, I wont dealing with my home made email server for now. Since I use PGP-encrypted as possible, I don't see any problem here.

My another usage that rely on 3rd-party services that I don't really trust was Bear, a note-taking platform and Todoist, a todo-list platform. I'm interesting in using todo.txt and will happy to migrate from Todoist. But for now I don't find any good; self-hosted, cli-based note taking platform for my need. Will happy to create ones or trying my hardest to find the suitable alternative.

Conclusion

If you are not a "power user", don't mind this post. But if you are interesting with this, I will happy to help you. Just contact me, seriously I'm a good person :)

If you are a power user enough, consider to self-hosted anything you use (and you can). Your data is yours, you have responsibility on it; You have full ownership on it, and you have to keep it as secure as you can.

Its like, how you try your best to keep your secret in your diary book by saving your diary book in safer place? By adding more security layer–like some lock–to your diary book to keep everything is okay even your diary book was lost or stolen?

Right now, there is more private information on your devices than in your home (yes, that was an Apple ads with some changes), previously our home are the safest place for our privacy. We store many our private data there.

And now, the era was changes. Almost everything we did were rely on technology. From planning (hello calendar!), storing photos (hello gallery book!), writing journal (hello diary & journal book!), etc are done in application.

Also, today was Cloud era. You can access it anywhere and synchronize it across devices seamlessly since your services are operated (and lives) in internet. You need trust the services–or don't–you use, like how you trust your friend in holding your secret/private information.

Being independent means you need to trust yourself for anything you did. And yes, also the server provider you choose. The storage provider you rely on. The computer you use, the ISP, god, anything.

But, you remove some higher-level layers. For example, if you tell some private information to your 3 friends, how many chances to your 3 friends that they will not to tell it to anyone? And also to their friend of friend? And so on and so on?

Who knows, right?

For this context, all you need to trust was the cloud & storage provider you use. If you don't, go setup your home-made server & storage-layer with some cool Raspberry Pi and your own SSD.

If you don't trust your ISP, go create your own. Just kidding, just obfuscate the information so they got nothing by using DoH or Tor.

This is not everyone, but I think everyone need to know about this. Thanks for reading.