Surely I (Doug) get on the nerves of our org’s I.T. guy. Surely. But he seems to grant me so much grace. I’ve been searching for an alternative to Zoom because the holes in its security really bother him. He’s been quietly advocating for “Big Blue Button (BBB).” Click read more to find out why. First, how in the world did they come up with this name? haha But secondly, why haven’t we heard of this? But apparently, BBB is a thing. We just didn’t know anything about it on OUR end. The first and best part about it, apparently, is the ability to host BBB on your own server. If you have that capability, or if you can host with a known vendor (that you trust), then you eliminate the majority of the problems with Zoom’s lack of security. It will be encrypted from the server all the way to users’ keyboards, just like Zoom. But UNLIKE Zoom, you’ll trust the people hosting – so the in-house privacy issue will go away – because you know the people running it. The only other downsides we can see would be that there are currently no dedicated Android nor iOS apps AND you can’t share your screen on mobile devices. If you can live with that, we finally could be looking at a trusted alternative. If you’re worried about the past, when BBB relied on Flash, that version is gone. You’ll no longer need Flash for the latest version. So what do you think? Can we at least try it? Please let us know your experience with BBB by clicking in the comment box after this item.
If you’re a faith-based internet vendor and you’re already capable of staging/hosting BBB for a ministry who needs a host, would you please provide your URL sometime below in comments? If you don’t mind, if you have installed BBB for a faith-based or humanitarian org already, please mention it in your post (without putting anyone at risk, of course).
If you have NO leads, you could also just contact a commercial company to host BB for you. In the comments that follow, please list any commercial companies you find, along with whatever you know about them. Even if you don’t have any personal relationship with them today, they can at least afford us the chance to try BBB in preparation, perhaps, for the day that we find someone who is one of those “trusted and known” hosts for whom we’re looking.
Writing this item was fun for us. In the process of learning more about BBB, we actually ended up talking ‘live’ with the Product Manager for Big Blue Button for the last ten years! He was so nice. As we talked, I could sense his commitment to both privacy and security. He made it clear that nothing was 100% private; nothing is 100% secure. But he also said that, using the scripts that they write, practically anyone with any technical background at all could set up their own BBB server from start to finish in about 15 minutes. BBB is focused on the educational market more than anything else (aren’t we all in the educating business? … about the Greatest News of all?), but the point is — he invites anyone to study the code. They can look for themselves because it’s all public knowledge. It’s all open source. At the end of the talk, we asked if we could pray for him. He hesitated only a moment, then said, “Sure?” But I’m not sure he really knew what to expect. As we wrapped up the prayer, asking that God would give him “fast fingers, a sharp mind, safety, courage, boldness, and determination,” we said Amen. He seemed floored, really. He said, “That was so special!” Honestly, I think we both were nearly in tears. It was a great moment… talking to this guy who had given so much of his life to a product that is intended to open doors to minds and hearts around the world.
Big Blue Button is waiting today for YOU to try. Host it with someone you know and trust. And let’s kick the tires. Please comment here about your own experience.