A New Kind of Open Source

Oct 13, 2016 · 2 min read

Join me in a new Open Source adventure 🎉

I’ve been doing Open Source for over a decade and I’ve never started a project quite like this.

On the surface, Roll Call is quite simple. Free calls for everyone in the world.

With modern web technologies we should be able to make free audio calls to everyone in the world.

Since this technology is peer-to-peer, there should be little to no infrastructure cost.

That’s how it should be.

In reality, there isn’t a reliable project that accomplishes this. This problem also gets more complicated as we add some important additional requirements.

  • People in countries that sanction censorship and block services should be able to access it reliably.
  • Third parties (like Governments) should not be able to track users or listen to calls.
  • Users should be able to record calls to produce new media like podcasts.

Admittedly, Roll Call doesn’t accomplish all of this today, but what it does do today:

  • Reliable audio-only calls between multiple participants.
  • Audio files can be dragged into the call window and played into the call. (This is super fun, you can see it work in the gif above, why have I never seen this before?)
  • Call recording is built-in, with podcast quality recording of every participants local audio sent continuously to the recorder.
  • Relies on almost no infrastructure, the application is quite literally hosted in gh-pages on GitHub.

Most of the open source work I’ve done has been on platforms and libraries for developers. In order for Roll Call to be successful it needs to be a product.

Open Source products are quite rare, especially in modern open source. Many of the lessons I’ve learned about how to manage and scale open source may not apply, but I’m excited to see how this all turns out. Needless to say, I’ll be experimenting along the way with different approaches to governance and contribution policies that are participatory but also product centric.

If the goals of this project are interesting, come join me 🙋

I’m terrible at many, many, skills necessary to make this project succeed. If you want a solid example, look at the current UI. I basically just pulled semantic-ui examples off the shelf 😜

If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, everything is on GitHub, just log an issue.

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Node & JavaScript

Javascript is fun and so Node is fun!