Escape Velocity

In the comments of this Hacker News article about degoogling:

I tried. I failed. I returned. Google is like Gravity. It would be awesome to escape it, but it’s expensive, impractical, and sooner or later, you will be back where you where. :frowning:

Extending the gravity metaphor, what do you think are the key components to achieving escape velocity?

Regain your privacy! Adopt /e/ the unGoogled mobile OS and online servicesphone



Well, with gg’s APIs everywhere in the web and W$-mazon as cloud providers… A short example > here <

So, using an old GSM is the way, but administrative web-services are becoming mandatory, without alternative…

I think the key component is patience. The fact is that Google provides many services of amazing quality and that are extremely useful to every day life. Moving away from them means giving up the standards of quality we’ve come to know and love from companies like Google, and dropping everything at once it’s too much of a reality check even for privacy-aware folks.

By taking things slowly and one step at the time it becomes so much easier. There is no pressure and you have as much time as needed to research alternatives, try them, etc. Patience will become extremely important when things don’t work or you have to go through hoops when “with X company you only have to login and that’s it” and stuff like that.

Asking about escape velocity is not quite the right question, because is not about making the change as fast as you can until suddenly you don’t need to run anymore. Once you start this path it’ll never stop, because these companies will keep on launching great products that people will naturally want to use, and push you in that direction i.e., what’s your instagram? What show are you watching right now? Send me your location on GMaps.

It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Go slowly, take your time, make as many stops on the way as you have to. Even after years trying to find a more privacy-friendly lifestyle, I still use Google services sometimes when all other options fail. I take extra precautions, sure, but at the end of the day I need to get things done. And that’s ok! It’s like being on a diet, eating a little chocolate every once in a while it’s fine (just make sure it really is every once in a while).


To a very large extent people aren’t even aware most of the stuff would work without Google services, even on Android, even without microG! On the other hand there is stuff that works so well that people take it for granted and it feels kind of ridiculous to read “After 20 minutes to an hour, your device should display your current location.” in UBPorts documentation. There is an alternative with network assisted services from Mozilla (probably a little better for privacy) and even /e/ is still leaking an awful amount of data to Qualcomm but eventually I guess this is one of the problems that will somehow get fixed, the users won’t accept 20 minutes GPS fix time, not even 1-2 minutes.

On the other hand some things probably won’t have good free alternatives. I’m waiting since way before the days of the smartphones for some interface that would show you where your (well GPS tagged) pictures were taken on a map or let you search some radius around some location or something. I’m talking mostly about local simple picture viewers/organizers - many do have such options but it’s only for one directory with a couple hundred pics you took from a trip, they’re not meant to scale to 20 years of pictures. Lightroom’s Map module almost does it (forget that it also uses Google Maps for the map itself) but still doesn’t scale well and it chokes on any reasonably sized catalogue even with a very powerful computer. Google Photos does it effortlessly. It finds the pics from name of places and it has since recently an explore maps feature in Google Photos that looks exactly like the feature I’m waiting now for more than 15 years from any decent local picture catalogue/browser program.

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I’m using after breaking up with Picasa.

I’m waiting since way before the days of the smartphones for some interface that would show you where your (well GPS tagged) pictures were taken on a map or let you search some radius around some location or something.

Thanks but really a subscription service to manage your local pics on your own computer? I don’t have anything against paying for software in general but these “subscription software” need to “call home”, they can break your workflow whenever the company decides (or is forced, like being bought or going out of business) to do anything nasty (usually you aren’t even licensed to use this week the version of the software you were using last week, even if you were and still are paying for a subscription). Be it anecdotal evidence but from my experience many more people are hating Adobe from moving to a subscription model instead of “bought” (well, licensed but forever and perfectly working offline) software than Google (for whatever they are doing). Even if many more people are using Google one way or the other.

The fact that the subscription is just as much as Lightroom and Photoshop together just makes it completely outrageous.

@666 Doh!

  1. Lighten load, dump all non-essentials. 2. solar powered glider, slowly climb to high altitude, then 3. fire rocket to escape the black hole fast. LOL

I agree with @PNJ88_Beast that it is not about the speed with which we are leaving the Services of the “big G” and $-mazon etc., but rather that the steadiness and continued effort that will lead to eventual success. The term “escape velocity” is therefore somewhat misleading, but I still think that it is an appropriate term when describing the concept of creating enough energy to break free from destructing singularity that is the “big G” and $-mazon.

Regarding your question on what the key components are in achieving this goal. I think the most important thing any aspiring, privacy focused, alternative software-ecosystem has to achieve is the full satisfaction of all needs of its users with its own applications and within the ecosystem. At the moment /e/ relies on a Patchwork of different services by different providers, to function properly and satisfy all needs of its users. This is quite nice when valuing independent, decentralized and open source systems, which are definitely are a great ideal, but they have the problem that the user has to pick from variety of different systems, and that they tend to not work as well together as applications by the same developer. Even if certain applications come preinstalled, they are not branded similarly and give the user a sense of insecurity, when the brand is not known and trusted.

For example: The /e/ OS uses “Magic Earth” as its map and navigation service. Even if the user knows and trusts the /e/OS he will not know what to expect of the service “Magic Earth” which is totally unknown to him (I myself only came across the service after dealing with /e/), and h will have difficulties implementing into other services.
On the other hand, a Google user uses Google Maps to go to a nearby Coffee shop, where he pays for his drink with Google Pay, before sitting down to check on his Google calendar regarding meetings for his business which he runs with the help of Google analytics. Provided he trusts the brand “Google”(which I of course do not advocate for!), he will likely use other Google products and will not start to use other services (e. /e/) because he knows that the Google services work well, work well together and satisfy all his needs.

An ecosystem trying to replace Google therefore has to provide a full suite of coherent products with the same branding which work well together in order to appeal to the average user. The cloud services by /e/ are a good start for that, but I think it is clear that there is still a lot of speed to be gained in order to get to the necessary “escape velocity”


We must clarify and emphasize this: if we are here it is only for one thing:

we detest google , apple and so on, and we detest their fake interest in the globalization of information and humanity … In fact the world has not improved because they are here…on the contrary, with their absurd policies of tracking and facilitating our things (thank you, but ***k youuuu and your devices!!!), they are making the world become like a birdcage…and obviously we are the birds.

And finally (and here, I speak only for me), I abhor all those simpletons who believe that google&co will save us and will bring us into an enlightened future…poor ding-dongs, this maybe will be true, but only for those partners that will share the dividends of alphabet inc or apple or any other big company… **** them too!

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Hating “subscription service” is as easy as hating “red colour”. The issues you listed are not any rule of thumb and can be applicable to other projects as well as to FOSS. For me it currently means

I’d love to see such project as FOSS, but I’d also would like to have a vision of a stable future. I believe that having a team of full-time professionals behind such commercial product is superior to other FOSS [and there is a handful of them, isn’t it? :grin:]. In this case I believe that a team of people claiming to be proffesionals is better that a single SW leader with random patchers on github. Also because I couldn’t find any alternative to compare.

Considering paid instances: if I would have to pay the same/similar amount

  • for a single instance software and have a particular version forever and
  • for a subscription service and have it updated regarding features and to the given OS (Windows or Android)

…I’d choose the subscription service. I lived many changes in my workflows and had given up on multiple software just because I couldn’t stay with outdated OS or old HW and the updates to that SW or app were not considered or the SW was abandoned. And so what? Change is inevitable. With subscription I’m paying for the present and near future (a year?) and, if the subscription service stops giving me, what I was paying for and wishing for: ciao. But also there is a good chance that I stay with them for many (tens of?) years. With buying a single instance of a SW, I’m as well paying for the present and the near future – until a new update of Windows or Android comes up and the bought SW may or may not work. But with that, I can await no updates or bugfixes (maybe for the next few months after purchase).

Rather than “financial”, it boils down to EULA, trust and privacy policy. I have read the Mylio Terms of services, Privacy policy and EULA and I have found a lot that was close to my believes and less that was “googly”. So, I trust them that they do not sell my content or my personal data, they do not sell me to ad or other companies and tomorrow do not dump my entire photo collection. Buying a single instance of a SW would not save anybody from badass code, would it?

What is it about “calling home”? Specifically, ^^^ I wish to have correct and timely updates and I give them consent that they collect my workflow – for whatever reason of optimizing the UX and UI. Yes, they have to get that data, obviously. It is a fricken photo-editing SW and not a cryptocurrency wallet. I just have to draw a line, let go of worries and let people be trusted and do they best job.

Please do not try to suggest why I - or anyone other than yourself - am here. You may feel like this, but I really don’t have time to ‘detest’ anyone, and I certainly won’t ‘abhor’ anyone or call them ‘simpletons’. I do believe that in some (many?) ways the world has improved because of the presence of the companies you mention. In other ways is has changed for the worse. Fortunately, the world isn’t as simple (in terms of good and evil) as you seem to suggest.

And, personally, I find life is better and easier if I don’t get angry about stuff, and don’t give in to negative, destructive emotions. Your experience may differ :slight_smile:


Well, I don’t. I don’t want my photo viewer to send data all the time to Google or to ACME Ltd or to I don’t want to wake up one morning and when I really want to quickly find some pics to find out my catalogue/viewer for the pics on my own hard drive doesn’t work because some server on another continent is having a breakdown. Or that I need to change my workflow because some company (be it big or small) decided to change direction completely or just to go under (I’m looking at you FlexRAID).


Yes Pete, I am sorry to have also spoken on behalf of other people who have chosen /e/, it is not correct!!!

And by the way you’re right, it’s time wasted getting angry about these things;
and normally I’m much more pragmatic, in the sense that everyone is free to choose what they want and it’s just their business;

but then, there are topics like this, that sometimes make me angry because I think: “can people sell out for so little, for some app, their privacy and their identity?!?”;

as for example a colleague of mine who is an enthusiast of google and all the services it offers, including the continuous tracking of his movements and the continuous listening through his smartphone… for him it’s absolutely not a problem, on the contrary it’s an added value, so I stopped discussing it with him and others.

So yes, sometimes I lose patience too, I’m sorry…even if I still think that many of the services that these companies offer (google&co), have simply been imposed as a necessity to people and that, an exceptional job has been done to induce many people to think that by now we can’t live without these services anymore… but I think it’s not so!

Ciao :relaxed:



Just two cents : there is cloud users and no-cloud others. I’m in second category, I’d choose full local storage mode for a while and I don’t want any app to send data’s to servers without my explicit and free consent (no ‘using blackmail’).

That’s why I don’t want to use any gg ‘services’ and deplore that gg-mazon are the main cloud-providers for banks and administrations, without my consent.

I’m not sure I quite understand what point you are making? I was not talking about one particular product but simply a way to approach a more privacy-friendly lifestyle coming from the usual reliance on popular companies such as Google, Microsoft, etc.

I’d love to see such project as FOSS, but I’d also would like to have a vision of a stable future. I believe that having a team of full-time professionals behind such commercial product is superior to other FOSS [and there is a handful of them, isn’t it? :grin:].

How exactly are you defining superior: Secure? Private? Popular? Stable? Most smartphones run a heavily-modified version of the Linux kernel (developed by the Linux Foundation). Most of the services provided by smartphones rely on servers who run some flavor of GNU/Linux (developed by successful companies such as RedHat or Canonical). Most websites you visit are served using open source software created and maintained by companies like Apache Foundation or Nginx, Inc.

Is no secret that even Microsoft relied for many years on Linux to run it’s own cloud (and they are approaching it more everyday). Google’s Chrome OS is again based on Linux. You mentioned GitHub, which uses Git, also open source (Microsoft bought it).

FOSS is everywhere, from embedded devices to supercomputers. Successful companies are build around these technologies and create products that are superior in many ways to their commercial counterparts. But of course, no matter if it’s FOSS or commercial proprietary software, a one person project cannot outperform a team of professionals…

I agree it’s not about speed.
I might have the physics wrong here, but its more something like momentum.
My feeling at the moment is the difference between an attempt that ‘falls back to earth’ (ie less than escape velocity) and one that is able to break the attachment (ie have reached escape velocity) probably hinges around a small number of core functions/ apps.
Get these clear and you can work on the rest and in time have success.
Fail to get clear on these and the pull to return becomes too strong.
I think also that what those critical core functions/ apps are differs from person to person.


As usual the devil is in the details, it would be just too easy if things would be “it’s tracking and listening to me all the time” on one hand and “nothing of value” offered in return. But the tracking is configurable and to a large extent under user’s control (and in any case WAY better than tracking used to be in the EU for more than a decade, with no way to opt out or even to get your data at all if you somehow wanted it). And the lack of value is probably mostly for people who are too young or who never knew how things were and take them for granted. We used to have Garmin maps that were like $300 for just one product and one country and for the main roads. If you wanted the islands or some recreational areas it would be some more tens or over $100, each. Of course with little or no updates whatsoever, next year product would come and you could buy at a small discount maybe as an upgrade, but still tons of money. Free mailboxes would be counted in few MBs (few as in you could count them on one hand, yes for the whole mailbox) and were actually going DOWN in size, there was no natural movement to increase them. Nobody was offering 1GB mailbox even for good money, you probably couldn’t get one for even $100 per month. Sure, one might say that’s in the past and now anybody can host everything with nextcloud and a few more other services on a Raspberry Pi. It really isn’t that simple. Flickr couldn’t get too much value from your pics so they limited the free accounts to 1000 pictures (which is approximately zero for anybody who had a camera or smartphone for more than a month or so…).

We reach escape velocity when we have a conversational digital agent that runs partly on our personal devices, and partly on a distributed, parallel processing platform consisting of lots of personal devices.

The digital agent becomes our interface to various services including Google search, Facebook, and so on while protecting our privacy and filtering out unwanted ads. We only reach escape velocity if this conversational digital agent is open source and running on an open source OS. A lot of the machine learning software presented in papers that are published at is open source. Not all of it, but a considerable amount.

It may present a dilemma to companies whose revenue is based on selling ads. Personally, I would be in favor of public support for things like YouTube, to replace the ads, so the content could be freely accessible, also. The same for the content in all of the libraries of the world, for myself and for my digital agent.


Yes, I totally agree with you. Unfortunately, governments always choose ‘business’ point of vue and don’t care about individual privacy nor knowledge, education, culture…

All in our life must create $$$ and Agencies don’t fear data’s business, as known since a few years. That’s not the world I expect, but business don’t care about human’s choices.

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What other view would there be than the business point of view?

What might our digital agents be able to do to help protect our right to privacy? I intend to teach my digital agent that I recognize Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It’s a starting point. Patience is good.


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