Loadsharers: Funding the Load-Bearing Internet Person


The internet has a sustainability problem. Many of its critical
services depend on the dedication of unpaid volunteers, because they
can't be monetized and thus don't have any revenue stream for the
maintainers to live on. I'm talking about services like DNS, time synchronization,
crypto libraries—software without which the net and the browser
using couldn't function.

These volunteer maintainers are the Load-Bearing Internet People (LBIP).
Underfunding them is a problem, because underfunded critical services
tend to have gaps and holes that could have been fixed if there were
more full-time attention on them. As our civilization becomes
increasingly dependent on this software infrastructure, that
attention shortfall could lead to disastrous outages.

I've been worrying about this problem since 2012, when I watched a
hacker I know wreck his health while working on a critical
infrastructure problem nobody else understood at the time. Billions of
dollars in e-commerce hung on getting the particular software problem
he had spotted solved, but because it masqueraded as network
undercapacity, he had a lot of trouble getting even technically-savvy
people to understand where the problem was. He solved it, but
unable to afford medical insurance and literally living in a tent, he
eventually went blind in one eye and is now prone to depressive

More recently, I damaged my ankle and discovered that although there is
such a thing as minor surgery on the medical level, there is no such
thing as „minor surgery“ on the financial level. I was
looking—still am looking—at a serious prospect of either having my life
savings wiped out or having to leave all 52 of the open-source projects
I'm responsible for in the lurch as I scrambled for a full-time job.
Projects at risk include the likes of GIFLIB, GPSD and NTPsec.

That refocused my mind on the LBIP problem. There aren't many
Load-Bearing Internet People—probably on the close order of
1,000 worldwide—but they're a systemic vulnerability made
inevitable by the existence of common software and internet services
that can't be metered. And, burning them out is a serious problem.
Even under the most cold-blooded assessment, civilization needs the
mean service life of an LBIP to be long enough to train and
acculturate a replacement.

(If that made you wonder—yes, in fact, I am training an apprentice.
Different problem for a different article.)

Alas, traditional centralized funding models have failed the LBIPs.
are a few reasons for this:



Veröffentlicht von Paul Christoph

Mein Name ist Paul Christoph Feichtinger, geboren am 15.5.1991 in Oberndorf bei Salzburg und mittlerweile stolzer Autor von 11 Büchern (7 in Deutsch und 4 in Englisch), 4 Apps (bald kommt Nummer 5) und dieser Webseite. Bei Paul Solutions bekommen alle Bücher und Apps ihre Form. Sieh dich ruhig ein bisschen auf meiner Webseite um, vielleicht gibt es auch für dich noch das ein oder andere zu entdecken. ;-)

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