guadec thoughts #3: where is .gnome?

Seeing so many of us using proprietary software for some of our most treasured possessions (our pictures, in flickr) has bugged me deeply this week. Just as bad, it strikes me as a fairly large and self-sustainable business opportunity- a small but growing number of people are willing to pay for services which give them the kind of control that flickr and others can’t or won’t give. Further, 37 Signals and other things has convinced me that it is possible to build small, basically self-financed web businesses. We now have millions of GNOME users out there; just 100,000 (hell, 10,000) GNOME users paying $5 a month for hardware, bandwidth and some software would finance a lot of software development. So I believe firmly there is a big opportunity out there for someone to do a free software based for-pay web service that integrates well with tools like f-spot, gnome-blog, evo, gossip, ekiga, nautilus, etc. It should be easy for GNOME users to sign up for one account, pay a small monthly or yearly fee, and be able to easily (no further configuration) publish their photos, blogs, etc., and communicate via email/jabber/voip/etc. Could be a small for-profit (like 37 Signals) or it could be the funding source for the first free-software cooperative. Either way, the opportunity is there for someone to do some agile, rapid development and have this in place soon.