The Internet began as an open environment where standards were discussed and implemented by a community. Which lead to protocols such as HTTP, SMTP and many others. If you’re not familiar with these, this is what is used for web sites and sending email. Because these are open standards it allows everyone to use and implement them. So as long as your application respects the standard, you can communicate with each other. It doesn’t matter if you use Firefox or Internet Explorer It also doesn’t matter which website you visit. Everything works and is able to connect with each other due to these open standards.
But in the past few decades we see more walled gardens. Where the goal is not open communication, but conquering the market and control it. Hence we see WhatsApp, Discord, Signal, Telegram and many more that cannot work together, because that would mean you cannot exploit the data and financial income by yourself. Now, this is not a natural law, Signal for example doesn’t allow federation because of security and privacy reasons. You can setup your own Signal server, but then only people registered to that server can communicate with each other. It’s fully open-source, but not the network.
Are there alternatives? Plenty! For chat there is Matrix, which is an open standard and can be used by many clients. For social media and alike, you can use ActivityPub platforms. Which allows federation between platforms, but also self-hosted instances. In other words, it allows someone with a “Twitter” account to follow someone with an “Instagram” or “YouTube” account. Of course, these are alternative platforms, but work very similar.
There are many organizations that advocate for open platforms, we as TZM should also be part of that conversation. It allows society to have control over how we communicate together when these standards are in a public domain and preferable applied with open-source software.