The mission of La Contre-Voie is to promote an ethical and emancipating digital environment, which does not commercially exploit our personal data. To achieve this goal, we organize awareness-raising activities and host free digital services.
In order to organize and structure our actions over the long term, we are formalizing our first roadmap, which defines the four major strategic axes on which we will mobilize our energy for the next three years._
In our encounters outside our circles of convinced librists, we’ve noticed that there’s no lack of willingness in associations to adopt ethical digital practices. This is particularly true of militant associations: the desire to participate in a human-scale digital world, which does not feed the hegemony of the tech giants.
What they often lack is rather the time to take the plunge and the skills to identify and use existing software alternatives, with the need to be accompanied step-by-step so that the transition to these digital tools is rapid and effective despite the change in habits it entails.
So, while our friends at Framasoft are launching Frama.space, a wide-ranging project to equip collectives, we’ve decided to focus primarily on the needs of our locality and on the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region, with a priority focus on associations (employing or not), informal collectives and perhaps small communities, or even small businesses. As our members are spread out all over France, we’ll also be able to take part in other venues as and when we can!
This is an opportunity for us to put into practice what we learned from the Émancip’Asso program in which we took part in January 2023: digital support is not just about hosting online tools and letting our audience use them independently. It calls on a wide range of cross-disciplinary skills, as it involves :
establishing a diagnosis of current practices to identify the expectations of our beneficiaries ;
defining a set of specifications to clarify our association’s action in relation to these identified needs;
implement tailor-made tools (through a catalog of applications that we will have predefined), sometimes by importing existing data;
train their staff on these new tools, in face-to-face where possible (it’s not enough just to exchange e-mails);
provide long-term support to help the structure deal with technical problems, and develop the service offering in line with its needs.
We estimate that such a support approach would require between 20 and 40 hours of work per structure, which considerably limits the number of structures we can support during the year, given that we also carry out other activities, as detailed later in this roadmap. In short, if we manage to support 5 structures in the first year, we’ll already be very proud ;)
To begin with, we can already reveal the diagnosis of digital practices that we have produced in preparation for our future accompaniments. It is destined to evolve with the structures we support. And, of course, we intend to include our approach in our documentation so that other support structures can adopt it!
We’re still feeling our way around, but we hope that these years of experimentation will help us to improve the program as we go along, and perhaps go beyond our small scale and help more groups!
Until now, our servers have been hosted by a third-party provider, as is the case with many alternative service providers. This provider maintains the hardware, and we take care of what’s installed on it. We depend entirely on this provider to deliver our digital services.
As an alternative hosting provider wishing to provide local digital services, notably through our forthcoming support program, we see self-hosting as a way of gaining autonomy over the tools we offer.
Having the physical machines that host our data at our disposal is a pledge of confidence for our audience, particularly for activist circles, in view of the major political turning points on digital issues in recent years.
Over the course of this roadmap, we will therefore be experimenting with different ways of building a resilient, small-scale infrastructure to host our services.
When we think of physical server hosting, we imagine large corridors of server cabinets in industrial-scale data centers. On our own small scale, we’d rather consider alternative methods of light hosting, as already experimented with by the CHATONS DeuxFleurs, the DistriLab or TeDomum: microcomputers, scrap computers assembled together, and voilà our home-made “datacenter”!
That said, such methods raise new issues. We’re used to the industrial quality of service of the digital giants: reliable, with high availability, that (almost) never crashes, and with low latency… If we set out to provide digital support to groups using salvaged equipment, can we guarantee them a level of reliability and sustainability that corresponds to the expectations we might have of modern digital services?
There are open-source technical solutions to create these reliability guarantees. We can build on these, even if the use of all these tools on a small scale is new ground that we have yet to clear.
Hosting services at La Contre-Voie can only be done in complementarity with our awareness-raising activities.
Since the association was founded, our vocation has been to organize popular education interventions to reach audiences with little awareness of digital ethics. Today, we intervene in militant places, media libraries and training establishments, to promote a digital ecosystem that is not based on the exploitation and monetization of our social behaviors.
For the next three years, we’ll be continuing to create and experiment with workshop and conference frameworks as we go along. These frameworks will then be documented, such as Brume’s workshop “How to make your association inclusive” or the conference “Les enjeux d’Internet”, under free license.
We still enjoy taking part in librist events such as the JDLL or the Capitole du Libre, but if we want to reach out to audiences who are uninitiated to digital issues, we need to get out of our comfort zone and discover new audiences who are unfamiliar with ethical digital issues.
One of this year’s projects will be to spark the interest of these audiences in order to highlight these issues, using communication tools and educational methods adapted to their expectations and needs.
Our actions are most effective when they enter into symbiosis with other structures. It is with this conviction that we joined the collectif CHATONS in June 2019: a hosters collective of alternative services to the tech giants.
2023 is the last year in which the Framasoft association, the collective’s founding mother, will devote a third of its salaried time to its coordination, while the collective works on its structuring, governance, charter and social purpose.
This year raises some concerns about the ability of collective members to take up the coordination torch, and raises the question of CHATONS’ continuity.
In 2023, we therefore devoted several months of part-time (volunteer) work to contributing to discussions on the charter or governance. We also took part in the CHATONS camp, the monthly meetings, the review of applications and various working groups.
We’d like to make our commitment permanent and mobilize someone to dedicate one afternoon a week to CHATONS.
We will endeavor to keep this commitment for the first year of this roadmap (2024), and will advise thereafter according to the needs of the collective and our ability to meet them.
This time for CHATONS will be dedicated to participation in structuring efforts, forum discussions, meetings and surveys we carry out among its members, within the limits of our available time and energy.
Although we have a lot in common with CHATONS member structures, hosting services is only part of what we do: we also organize events in media libraries, schools and other popular education venues to raise awareness of digital ethics.
To multiply our interventions, we need to meet the right people who can put us in touch with interested structures. The same goes for our support program: we need to get ourselves known to the organizations that need it, especially on a local scale.
For these reasons, we are planning to get involved in networks and collectives linked to our activities in order to be better referenced by our public, in the same way as we joined the Maison des Peuples et de la Paix earlier this year, a network in which our association is now domiciled.
€15,000: that’s the amount we need to finance the first year of this roadmap in its entirety, giving us a little reserve fund for the future.
Over the next three years, we’ll gradually begin to remunerate our members for their work, so that the battle for FOSS isn’t limited to our free time!
We’re starting from a tiny budget: remember that our annual budget for 2022 was 2,300 euros and that for 2023 was 4,800 euros… To take on our first full-time salaried employee, we’d need a minimum of 21,000 euros per year, dedicated solely to remuneration.
We’ve decided not to employ any salaries from the start of 2024, because our reserve funds are insufficient to guarantee that this action won’t jeopardize the association’s financial stability… that’s why we need your contribution to constitute reserve funds and thus enable us to increase our budget the following year!
Come and drop your star on our participative constellation to contribute to our actions!
The year 2024 will cost us €10,000, and we have €5,000 in reserve funds. With €5,000 from you, we’ll be able to cover the first year of this roadmap, but it will be at the expense of our savings.
This scenario won’t give us the financial guarantees to take on a salaried employee, but it will give us time to consider other ways of financing ourselves (subsidies, interventions, subscriptions…) for the following year.
By reaching this milestone, you will help us cover all our expenses for the year 2024.
The income we generate from our activities and membership fees in 2024 will enable us to build up a small reserve fund, with a view to funding our salaried position through subsidies the following year.