Tl;dr – check out gath.io for making chill, inclusive, not-creepy event pages. Unlike Evite, It won’t track you or serve you Bitcoin ads.
It amazes me how a free, open-source program can outperform its proprietary, commercialized equivalents. An obvious one is R, the statistical programming language. It blows away competitors like SPSS. R is a huge project, but some great open-source projects can surpass commercial competition while remaining a single person’s side project.
It touches my heart that people build great things together, transparently, and then make them freely available. I’ve long meant to write posts where I shout out a free, open-source software (FOSS) that has improved my life materially or spiritually. I was finally spurred to write when I got an Evite yesterday, for a 7-year-old’s birthday party. I opened the link on my phone and saw:
Evite has always had annoying ads and links, but this took it to the next level. I buy as little as possible from Amazon. Amazon’s bad enough. But Bitcoin?? It’s a Ponzi scheme that lures in unsuspecting saps (see the Citations Needed episode on manipulative Bitcoin/crypto/NFT advertising) and sows remarkable environmental destruction. Happy birthday, kid, here’s 0.0005 Bitcoin. Good luck spending it. (Web3 Is Going Great has you covered for crypto realism and schadenfreude).
These ads put me over the edge, but I’ve disliked Evite for years. In particular, it’s creepy that the organizer can track who has opened and viewed the invite.
And then there’s Facebook events. Because I’m not on Facebook, I sometimes forget how many events are organized there. Until someone sends me one I want to attend and I’m unable to view the info or RSVP. Argh!
Why must we engage with platforms that track us, shove ads in our faces, and sell our data in order to organize a dang birthday party or seed-swap?? Well, someone else felt the same way and did something about it. Enter: gathio!
You don’t make an account. No one’s information is tracked. And as the site notes:
We don’t show you ads, don’t sell your data, and never send you unnecessary emails.https://gath.io/
It’s just a nice little way to organize an event. I’ve used it a few times and it’s quite satisfactory. I recommend it as an inclusive, reasonable alternative to Evite or Facebook.
It’s interesting that many FOSS projects provide the same service as a similar for-profit product with a budget that is orders of magnitude greater. For instance, Mastodon (one full-time employee) quickly reached feature parity with Twitter (thousands of employees).
In the case of gathio, how can one guy’s part-time project, free to use and funded by voluntary donations, offer the same service as Evite, which has ~200 employees? It exposes that much of what goes into proprietary digital products, especially free-to-use ones, is overhead associated with tracking users, showing them ads, and selling their data. Or, in this case, getting a Bitcoin ad to display over the page. Pretty wasteful. Luckily, there’s a competent FOSS alternative.
So there you go. Visit gath.io, try it out for your next event, and throw them a few bucks if you like it to keep the service online for anyone who wants to organize a clothing swap without being tracked or advertised to.
Maybe I’ll write more posts in this “FOSS does it better” series. They might even be shorter since I’ve gotten some ranting out. Though in my defense, it would have been a shorter post if Evite didn’t shill for Bitcoin.