Hi @PC, I’ll make this a detailed answer in case anyone else has the same question!
Straight-forward stats-driven answer
The Better group activity on our repository gives you an idea of how often we are pushing code on Better. We push code almost every day.
We’ve been working on a big update for the last few months, which keeps having little extras added to it (there’s always just one more thing!) which is why there hasn’t been an update in the News section for a while. But since launching Better for iOS in June, we’ve had 4 major app updates (including introducing the Mac app) and 20 mass updates to the blocking rules.
In terms of what we’re doing when we’re not coding and pushing code, we are:
Designing for the future of Better
As anyone who has seen the walls of our office would know, @aral plans out everything in a reasonable amount of detail before touching any code. We also design and mock-up in other mediums. Working on Better also has a habit of being our main topic of conversation when we are eating/out for drinks/supposed to be relaxing. It is not a side project, it is our lives.
Advocating for the issues around Better
Aral and I both give talks about the principles behind Better at conferences and other events. This takes up maybe four days a month, depending on whether it’s conference season. Giving talks has the dual purpose of a) informing people of the surveillance capitalism problem, and encouraging them to support/build alternatives, and b) providing us with income to support us until we are making enough from Better to pay our rent/buy dog food.
Updating the blocking rules
Very few blockers have visible and actively maintained blocking rules (and even fewer base their blocking on ethical principles!) In the last few months, we’ve had fewer updates to the blocking rules (what we call “content updates”) and that’s because we’ve been focusing on the features of the Better apps.
We are still working on the basic features that the Better apps need in order to do the best job, and to meet people’s expectations. Once we are satisfied that we have those features covered, we will be able to dedicate more time to keeping the block list up-to-date, also making it easier for others to help us too.
Once we are providing frequent updates of the rules, and we are confident that we can provide reliably frequent updates, will we start looking at making Better subscription-based. Any funds provided to us via ind.ie/fund goes towards the work that we as Ind.ie are doing, and right now that is working on Better. (At the moment, the funding we get from patrons almost covers Better’s monthly hosting bills!)
Heartbeat and the network of the future
As those of you who have been with us for a long time will know, our long-game is to build what Aral now refers to as an “internet of people.” Aral’s recent article on Encouraging individual sovereignty and a healthy commons explains the why and the what in more detail.
Heartbeat was an early prototyped client for this (and really not intended as an alternative to Signal). Better is an approach from the other direction, trying to prevent these corporations from tracking you—a form of digital regulation—while the alternatives we need do not exist.
And all the other stuff
It’s probably fair to say that Aral dedicates 95% of his time directly working on Better, whereas I’m more like 75%. When I’m not working on the web and graphical elements of Better, I do most of the support and running the social media accounts, which is sometimes tangential. But then the rest of my time is spent doing the stuff that keeps Ind.ie ticking like accounting, organising events, other necessary business logistical bits n bobs.
To other folks: please feel free to chime in on your thoughts regarding updates etc! It’s important for us to know your expectations, and what you need from Better