Fratres Codicis

I've mentioned for a while that I see 'reading and writing code today' as similar to 'reading and writing text back then'. But we don't have any orders of monks dedicated to coding for the Church... We should.

Brothers of the Code

Monks practically invented universities. They were the driving forces behind wisdom and knowledge development for centuries. Largely, this was because they could read and write, and most couldn't.

Entire religious orders were established to support and guide these dedicated men on their quest to use their knowledge and skills to further the cause of the Church and advance society according to a strong set of moral values.

I've mentioned for a while that I see "reading and writing code today" as similar to "reading and writing text back then". But we don't have any orders of monks dedicated to coding for the Church.

We should.

And they don't have to be full-time isolated monks, even just a band of brothers dedicated to volunteering their time building software and automations to further the mission of the Church and improve humanity could transform both society and the global Church. The Knights of Columbus does fantastic work by way of volunteering laymen, usually with families and busy lives.

What would a Knights of Columbus -like organization focused on building useful software look like?

The guys at 37Signals are doing some interesting things right now around the idea of self-hosting software rather than forcing everybody into leasing arrangements at high per-user-per-month rates. Yes, SaaS is easy to get started RIGHT NOW for users... but isn't the easy path that offers immediate gratification usually the wrong approach long-term? 37Signals thinks so. With just a little bit more effort up front, companies can stand up their own servers that host their own chat app for pennies compared to the cost of Slack for 100+ users every month.

The open source community has known about this for a looong time.

So Fratres Codicis would likely write all its code as open source. What is there to hide? As Christians, are we not called to let our light shine?

Monks used to brew beer and participate in other commercial activities in the past. Fratres Codicis wouldn't be against generating income in order to better support its humanitarian mission to provide quality affordable software to the world, without actually being concerned about profit. The WordPress model shows that this is still very feasible, even while remaining fully open source.

SOME USERS: I'll host your open source solution on my own servers. Thanks.

FC: "Great! It's our mission to help distribute quality software affordably, and free is very affordable."

OTHER USERS: "That's cool, but I really still don't want to manage my own servers. Can you do it for me? I still like your mission and want to support you."

FC: "No problem! We also offer a fully hosted version at cost, since we don't care about profit."

There are many SaaS apps (and other software) that are doing simple things, but bill on a subscription model so the users don't end up owning anything and are instead loosely in debt to the software companies. Sometimes this is fine. Sometimes its immoral. When its immoral, the open source community has consistently attacked the monopolies by building alternatives. Fratres Codicis would continue that mission to a large degree. Find apps that are ubiquitous and subscription-based, create alternatives that cover the important features, make it very easy to self-host, and also offer a very affordable cost-based cloud-hosted version.

When the Brother Cloud scales enough, Fratres Codicis can begin to offer a more powerful service in the form of a full featured cloud platform. Open source solutions already exist to power a platform like this, and can be further refined and built out as the Fratres Codicis gains momentum and participation. Now, the world will have a formidable cloud platform alternative that's ideologically superior to the existing cloud behemoths dominating the scene today. The Brother Cloud, being run by a non-profit, should also be more affordable once critical mass is reached.