Donut is an open source social networking project created by Codeuino, a voluntary open source social networking software development organization that wants to change the way communities and individuals use open source social networking tools and create.
Swapnil Bhartiya interviews Jaskirat Singh, founder of Codeuino on behalf of the Linux Foundation. Here is the minutes of the interview:
Swapnil Bhartiya: Hello, this is Swapnil Bhartiya and today we have a special guest from India with us, Jaskirat Singh, founder of Codeuino, an open source project or community that develops amazing social networking software. Jaskirat, first of all, welcome to the show. Now tell us something about the project itself.
Jaskirat Singh: Codeuino is basically a social networking community that only considers social projects such as the Donut Project, the Codebadge Project and the Spenceberry Project.
Swapnil Bhartiya: Basically, it's like an open source community that creates software for social networking solutions.
Jaskirat Singh: Well, we're just building the software side. So we have projects that other external communities, other projects, can use in their own way. We only provide a number of projects to make them available for other external projects and also for other communities. And these things can be used for their customization as it is open source and free.
Swapnil Bhartiya: Now you've mentioned three projects. One of the projects I'm personally interested in is the Donut project. Tell us a little more about the donut project.
Jaskirat Singh: Donut is basically an open source, feature-rich, and extremely privacy-friendly social media platform. It is not a replication of Facebook, but a social media platform that was developed in a tailor-made way for community-oriented collaborations. So it's essentially based on the Node.js framework that helps other communities set it up. Since this is a self-hosted project, external communities and external projects can set this up on their own server and use it for their own community.
This will act as a bridge between your projects and your community users. So this is basically a social media platform. And this comes with an extensive set of a module library, in which you can even customize some external modules, as mentioned earlier. We have a suitable mechanism within this donut platform that you can use to organize. You can create additional functions yourself with one click within the donut platform. This will even help you create your own features and functions within the donut platform.
Swapnil Bhartiya: If you look at history, a lot of effort has been put into developing open source social networking solutions. I mean, Mastodon is a very good example that didn't get the traction we expected. How is Donut different from these open source efforts?
Jaskirat Singh: The world we currently live in is full of jarring technologies. And every day, new software or a new device is launched that improves our life in one way or another. Communication technology has enabled new approaches for the external community project and end users, in which stakeholders from different sectors are involved in building consensus and essentially in the implementation process. Basically, this donut project enables users to interact one-on-one with their own community.
So basically this is a platform that would help bridge the gap between communities, their own way of working, their own work ethic and the target users who deal with the communities, because for every open source community or every open -Source project The most prioritized are their users. And every community, usually within open source, essentially depends on the contribution it receives from external users. I think this would help involve external users in their projects and they could organize their own content on this special self-hosted version of their own donut on their server. So this is something that acts as two sides of the Facebook network, which is a social media platform.
Swapnil Bhartiya: If I'm not mistaken, you're not building the next mastodon, you're not building the next Facebook or Twitter, you're actually building an open source social media solution or software that others can use to help them create a social network for their own needs. Is that correct?
Jaskirat Singh: Yes. We build software.
Swapnil Bhartiya: Who is Donut's target audience? If I'm not mistaken, you seem to be dealing with business-to-business or B-to-B areas, not business-to-consumer or B-to-C areas. Is that correct?
Jaskirat Singh: Okay. When I speak about the target group, i.e. the target group in the sense, this is basically available to the communities. Suppose when I talk about a Linux Foundation community, it has quite a few users, right? So to support these users with their own communities and keep them up to date on things and keep them busy with the external things like their media or even the projects, events and other things. So this would help involve both the external communities and the target users for those particular communities.
Swapnil Bhartiya: And you were also included in Google Summer of Code. What has been the experience so far?
Jaskirat Singh: We are involved in many important development programs such as Google Summer of Code, Google Code-in and Google Season of Docs. We are currently in the Google Summer of Code 2020 phase. I think participating in these programs has allowed us to grow our community of diverse developers and other activists. And I think as a social networking community, it meets the social need to interact with various other activists, researchers, designers, and developers around the world.
Swapnil Bhartiya: I also want to know a little bit about how widespread the community is. I understand that it's from India, but tell us a little bit about where its developers are, is it specific to a region or a global phenomenon?
Jaskirat Singh: Oh. Well, that's something that isn't really limited to our country. So this is something that exists globally. So everyone can join our community.
Swapnil Bhartiya: Now I want to take a step back. I understand a lot about the project. I want to know the story of why and when you came up with the idea of creating this project? What problem did you see in this market that you wanted to solve with it?
Jaskirat Singh: Oh. Well, I just want you to know that when I started this project I was about 14 years old and the main problem for me was to find a contribution on how to basically lay the foundation for this particular project. Because I actually found out about an open source competition from Google called Google Code-in. After that, I really researched how social media platforms are made. So I asked myself, what if every community and project had their own Facebook? That helped me and motivated me to research these topics. I started brainstorming why a social environment is needed, why a community bridge between users is required, why sustainability is required in a community or project.
This motivated and encouraged me to start this particular project and with this growing project we had the opportunity to integrate other projects such as discussion forums into this social media platform and the project that measures user health. So it's about getting everything in one place. More importantly, this type of project does not currently exist. We would be the first to do that.
Swapnil Bhartiya: Well, one of the critical elements of a project, especially open source projects, is funding. How do you finance or sponsor the project?
Jaskirat Singh: Well, we don't have enough money at the moment. We're not getting enough money right now, but whatever we get is essentially from development programs, and everyone like me just had Google Summer of Code, and those are the things they usually pay, they support some open funds. Source communities that participate. Basically, we're even looking forward to financial support from the communities, some large grassroots communities, and where we could contribute to the growth of our market, we could have extended our development phase, so this is something. Even now when I talk about it, I really want to thank the Linux Foundation because the Linux Foundation recently supported us and even we were approved for a Linux Foundation's new CommunityBridge Mentorship program that Codeuino is participating in with the two mentees. I think that's something we're really excited about.
Swapnil Bhartiya: Right. That's the reality. However, if you look at open source, commercializing open source is critical to the health of the project and its ecosystem. It ensures that the project has a certain longevity. Do you have plans to commercialize donut?
Jaskirat Singh: Well, basically yes, because we currently have many goals. We are currently in a phase in which this reach can also be transferred to some external markets in order to make it a more profitable product at the production level. And we are working intensively on this donut platform and other interlinked projects to solve security and vulnerability problems, because if a community uses this platform for itself as for itself … So the first priority would be to ensure this security are right? Security and data protection therefore play the most important role in every community. So this is something we really build on and really want to make it safer so that this can be achieved down to the main production level and used by many other communities and projects.
Swapnil Bhartiya: Great. We are now in mid-2020. Can you talk about what your roadmap for the year looks like?
Jaskirat Singh: Basically, the first priority for us is to get funding from communities and projects because funding is important to us because we … Because basically for every open source community or open -Source project They usually depend on the contributions they receive from external users. So this is something that would help us to activate and enter the markets, organize some meetups, organize some of the development sprints and online hackathons where we could introduce the project and make the better improvements within the platforms, we are working on.
I think adding AI to projects would even allow us to aim for more growth. This is something that we are really planning to do this year in particular.
Swapnil Bhartiya: That was great. Thank you, Jaskirat Singh, for taking the time to speak to me today. Good luck with your project and I look forward to speaking to you again as soon as you have reached some of these milestones on your roadmap. Thanks a lot.
Jaskirat Singh: Sure. Thanks a lot. Thanks a lot.