I am returning home from the kickoff meeting on a new project. Something interesting happened there: for reasons that I won’t go into right now, the partners find it inappropriate to do our online collaboration on proprietary tools and cloud services owned by stacks (GAFAM). This turned out to be practically impossible. We do have repositories for papers and deliverables (zenodo.org); we do have the Edgeryders platform for conversation. Other things turned out to be hard.
Collaborative document editing. There is still little in the way of replacements to Google Docs. Some people in the group had tried Cryptpad, but not liked it. Elsewhere, @ton suggested Collabora. Several alternatives were proposed, from Overleaf (will we be writing our notes in LaTEX?) to versioned Libre Office Documents circulated over email. I would propose there ARE some alternatives, as long as you are prepared to go minimal over features (which is good for you anyway). For example, Etherpad has become quite beatiful, a bit like the Hackpad of old. Some disadvantages, of course: it saves in SQLite, so even if you download a backup you won’t be able to do anything with it. It is part of Sandstorm, which is self-hostable (and includes an app for Jupyter Notebook, which looks real-time collaborative too).
Cloud archival. We are talking here of humble documents. Certainly not papers, not even project deliverables (those go on Zenodo). But the minutes from the meeting, the working document, the unfinished draft, the picture. Most orgs use Google Drive, or Dropbox, or Office in the Cloud. Again, not so many alternatives here (Ton likes Nextcloud) In the end, we solved this one with… FTP .
Event registration. Do we even need a non-evil Eventbrite alternative? It is not clear to me. Among other things, those data are problematic from a GDPR point of view. My suggestion of going back to the Barcamp tradition (run events through a wiki, people “register” by writing their name into a wikified list of attendees) was not met by much enthusiasm.
So, here is where we are. If you want to go non-evil in our everyday workflow, you need to make quite some efforts, and it is not even clear you can find a proper solution. This, even standing on the Egderyders small, but solid tech infrastructure built by the vision of @matthias and @daniel. What a mess!
Can anyone point to any better solution?
Photo credit: Emily on flickr.com