A graphic showing a server rack connected to solar panels

Merri-Bek Community Web Hosting Link to this heading

About the project Link to this heading

This project is not yet started. Currently calling for collaborators.

Early days of the internet saw computers co-located with real world communities doing the work of serving web pages, receiving emails and other key functions. Even simple web sites are now much more easily deployed to massive data centers owned by corporations like Amazon.

Smaller, greener and more ethical data centers do exist (in Melbourne, Serversaurus looks great) and deserve our support. But, I think there’s also a place for the truly local and more amateur web hosting. I’m envisaging a project where we have a server rack somewhere in Merri-bek, hosted on the location of a trusted community organisation, ideally powered directly by on-site solar and batteries. It’s possible that we want more than one such location for backup and redundancy. Such a project would be operated by an organised group of local volunteers, and/or could provide a small amount of local livelihood generation.

My involvement Link to this heading

I want this project to happen, and am happy to convene this group. I’m a software engineer, with casual experience in linux server administration, but not a professional server engineer. This project will go better with involvement from multiple stakeholders, and ideally support both from Merri-bek City Council and from independent community groups.

Theory of Change Link to this heading

1. Prefigurative technology Link to this heading

When it comes to technology choices, the personal is political. It somewhat feels like the battle between “open source” and “closed source” technology has moved on, because open source software has been comfortably embraced by capitalist business models. What really matters is that we use technology with represents the futures we want to try living. In this case, that means small, local software that invites tinkering and shaping to local collective processes.

2. Resilience Link to this heading

Doing this builds local resilience. If centralised infrastructure became unreliable, we could have a reliable place where we backup important software, books and other resources. It also builds skills that make technology more understandable both in the field of hosting software, and managing renewable power.

3. Reduction of Corporate Power Link to this heading

Much of the web has been enclosed by massive corporations practicing surveillance capitalism. It’s becoming increasingly clear that companies like Facebook and Twitter do not serve the public good, despite attempting to be the digital public square. There are more great free software platforms to replace them than ever, and a local web hosting collecting could provide free options to local residents for internet needs like email and social networking, and free options to support community groups for file storage, collaboration and websites.