A nice way of putting it, though I have a slightly different take - the "worlds of abundance" are made of relationships. And not in a good way.
When I own a bunch of files, I own a bunch of files. Nobody can mess with that. When I use Spotify, I'm in a relationship with Spotify the company. A relationship governed by a lengthy ToS, a relationship in which I'm at a disadvantage, but most importantly, it's another relationship to keep track of.
Things you own are out of mind until you need them. Yes, that sometimes means you'll fail to perform necessary maintenance in a timely fashion. But services are always on the top of your mind. They drain your bank account monthly or yearly. They have terms that keep changing. Their offerings keep changing. If you lose track of some, they'll just keep draining your bank account. Services create cognitive burden. Personally, I'm already confused and unsure about just how many things I subscribe to, and I'm someone opposed to X as a Service as a matter of principle.
I just don't want that many commercial relationships in my life. It's tiring.
I think most people miss how powerful relationships are in a network of abundance. You really nailed it.
Unless we can turn these relationships on their head, economically speaking.
Been trying to work out the math on this for the last year. Recently gave a talk on it (https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=1HJdrBk3BlE) would you mind sharing your thoughts on it and on abundance/relationships in general?
One of the technical directors of Silicon Valley TV show and I were talking, and he's very interested in what they call the "Post-Subscription Economy".
Basically Google and Netflix hijacked Hollywood, and now a lot of the studios are interested in what's next, for fear of missing out again.
1) Is the % daily value a self-reported quantity? You seem to strongly suggest it is.
2) You described a hope - not unreasonable one - that under your ideal conditions, cheating on self-reporting of % daily values will make no sense and naturally disappear. But what about the conditions in which your system exists in parallel to the current one? How to prevent economic arbitrage? I.e. people misreporting their % daily value estimate to extract goods and services from your system, which then they sell for money in our current system?
3) Is there any form of money backing your system? If not, then how the people who have nothing to give to the society are supported? Wouldn't there be a poverty class in your system too? Does it have better economic mobility?
4) Do you have any more details about algorithms underpinning freeism, and how should they be created?
Did you write an article or a paper about this that goes into more details? I'd love to read it.
This is concerning for me too, but no other model I've explored let's us as accurately get at what the perceived value is other than directly asking.
Have any ideas for novel models? I'd love to connect you with someone that has a PhD in Economic Mathematical Models that is helping contribute to the design of this system.
If the abuses can be more easily adjusted for than the difficulting of interpreting a proxy measure in value, then I think there is merit.
For instance, if at a macroeconomic level we see coffee has a 2% daily value with only 1% variance, then we see some outlier claiming coffee was 69% of their daily value, it might mean something odd is going on. But knowing that for most people that coffee accurately represents 2% has far more possible wins in understanding logistics than the assumptions of other methods.
From my design stance, I see this as a feature not a bug. Could you expand on edge cases where this would produce harm for the % system?
It seems the harm would be for the legacy system, and the arbitrage is strategic.
Giving in this system is not obligatory. So if too many abundant goods get scraped, they'll turn into scarcity goods that require a higher Giving Index, OR it will represent market demand for an entrepreneur/startup to scale up the manufacturing/production of that good, to maintain its abundance factor.
Again, note, in $USD often the more of a good there is causes cost to fall. This is not true in %, a good may still have a high percent value, even if it is readily available to all. So there is a lot of profit (higher Giving Index = access to more luxury goods) to be made on these high demand high valued items. $USD is self defeating, the more Tesla you can produce outpacing demand, the cheaper you want to price them. Does this mean Tesla have lower and lower economic worth or value?
Arbitraging the system, skimming goods and selling them to legacy for $USD means you're not gaining inbound % value statements (as in you're not gaining wealth in the new system, the Giving Index) so perhaps you putting high % values on the goods you are skimming is more accurate than you'd think? They're maybe getting more value from it as a result of the arbitrage than purely somebody in the new system using it (say a banana) for average consumption.
This is why it would be an intentional feature. But please, if I'm missing an edge case that results in harm, please illuminate me!
(3) UBI is baked into the system!
First off, UBI doesn't work with money due to the inflation problem.
There is no money. That is because you don't need to pay (transact) for majority of goods (food, housing, etc. post scarce in USA, tho not other places) to be given to you, you just need to state how much value you get from them each day.
Here is a good thread on if Walmart were to give away groceries in this system: https://mobile.twitter.com/marknadal/status/1174489487679709...
So the "poverty class" becomes the consumer class. Their needs should be taken care of, they would be material rich, but not prioritized in luxury or in waiting lines, the Biggest Givers would be able to skip to the front of a coffee shop, bakery, airport boarding, etc.
Better mobility yes, because you wouldn't need capital before doing a startup to pay for rent and employees. All you'd need to do is form a team with your friends (like many do in online games as "guilds") and invest your time into making or distributing products.
Economics mobility is incentived here because gangs of teenagers could go into Costco, get bulk of bananas, and then be last-mile distributors (TaskRabbit, etc.) without needing capital first to buy the bananas (obviously they could not do this for luxury items yet).
A soft introduction is http://free.eco and the PhD is starting https://github.com/goognin/freeism/wiki/Welcome-to-The-New-E... to help organize thoughts. Plus http://chat.free.eco is a community of people discussing this!
I'll email you to follow up more, thanks so much for your time.
That doesn't sound entirely true. Imagine TNG, the typical abundance utopia (or Culture, insert your favorite post-scarcity society here). While it's true that you need relationships to be on the Enterprise, you don't need relationships to go to your replicator and get whatever material product you fancy.
Instead, dependencies seem come from two things combined: abundance plus centralization. Or economically: a fixed cost, and abundance beyond that fixed cost. You need a relationship with Spotify because Spotify is the one who holds the keys to the library. Contrast it to a world where piracy is legal: you wouldn't need a relationship with BitTorrent to download music, because it has no entry cost. You might need a relationship with private trackers if you're not content with the public ones, but again - that's because the private trackers hold the keys to the abundance beyond.
I'm not against all business relationships, just the proliferation of them. You don't need a relationship with the replicator to use one on Enterprise - just being there (even as a guest) gives you access. But that's Starfleet. I assume that Federation citizens don't need relationships to operate their household replicators either - they most likely own one. And while this is just my head canon, I imagine on Ferenginar you typically rent food replicators from Replicate.ly or some other competing startup.
I'm not agreeing with the author that the "worlds of abundance" need to have everything as services. I'm just complaining that our world is heading this way. Ultimately, I want our world to be more like the Federation, and less like the Ferengi.
“The door refused to open. It said, “Five cents, please.”
He searched his pockets. No more coins; nothing. “I’ll pay you tomorrow,” he told the door. Again he tried the knob. Again it remained locked tight. “What I pay you,” he informed it, “is in the nature of a gratuity; I don’t have to pay you.”
“I think otherwise,” the door said. “Look in the purchase contract you signed when you bought this conapt.”
In his desk drawer he found the contract; since signing it he had found it necessary to refer to the document many times. Sure enough; payment to his door for opening and shutting constituted a mandatory fee. Not a tip.
Neither Spotify nor piracy do that.
This is related to the dependency problem. Dependencies aren’t problematic just because they’re dependencies, but because too many systems are made of low quality work.
If the infrastructure worked absolutely reliably, no one would care about personal file ownership.
The fact that it doesn’t is the problem.
Doesn't "dependency" covers all these negatives?
(Dependency not as in "npm/maven dependency" but in the casual sense).
Plus , you can't trade or exchange those dependencies with other people. It's cheap rattling chains really.
> Plus , you can't trade or exchange those dependencies with other people. It's cheap rattling chains really.
I don't understand what you mean by this. Could you rephrase it?
Yes, you generally can't resell relationships - transfering recurring services is usually impossible on the web, or a huge PITA off-line. That's another problem with them.
The expense is mostly shared across all the things you own. You protect one flat or house, and store most of your possessions in it.
> Ultimately, you are still reliant on the relationships you have with others and their willingness to respect that it is yours.
Those are relationships with humans, and perhaps fixed number of public services. Each provides something important. 100th commercial relationship that only exists because the industry likes recurring payments for what should be a one-time purchase is tiring.
So GNU or it’s predecessors,
circa the birth of the personal computer.
if “the cloud and apps” is cognate with “timeshare mainframes and thin clients”, and I think it is, then everything old is new again and i look forward to taking back what’s ours, again.
Let’s face it, “fat client” just isn’t sexy.
“Geo-computing” - we’re computing on Earth again.
“Serverful” - servers are back.
“Clear sky solutions” - self-hosted, cloudless applications.
Get your data back on The Ground.
I love it.
Here is an NBC short documentary on it, with me and the Archive in it: https://www.nbcnews.com/video/building-a-new-internet-the-bo...
I think "community powered" or "community rooted" gets at the most important values of it.
In the old world of tarballs, you could throw a file on an ftp server and someone could take an afternoon, mess with the paths and the make and make install and all that, and have your thing up and running. And mostly keep using it without fuss.
With web services you just can’t. You minimum need security patches applies, and in truth, you need the original author to be able to keep refactoring and updating the service architecture.
We don’t have infrastructure that can facilitate that. That’s the real problem, not licensing.
You can put a Heroku buildpack or whatever in your repo. That gets us pretty close to one-click deploy, and almost automatic security patching. But Heroku will penalize us with a 30 delay for being non-profit, when we access the service, which is pretty much a deal breaker. Even if I am paying them a hundred dollars a month (and I am) they will still pause for 30 seconds every time I access one of my cold “free” services.
If there was a hosting solution, even if it involved users paying a monthly fee, but it solved this issue of shared maintenance of open source services, it would usher in a new golden age of free software.
Ostensibly Ethereum solves this problem, but we’ll see if the ergonomics get where they need to be. It would be nice to be able to do this in a trustless way, although I don’t think that’s necessary for a MVP.
Or technology that's nobody's, aka decentralized networks
The PC revolution happened when people become empowered to work together fluidly in a pyramid of specialization and cost sharing
Where we need to focus is opportunistic clustering, both of development and operations
In those cases you have a ecosystems where you can pick from a plurality of base systems maintained by large projects to start from. Someone who is an expert in something else can get up and running with a functioning system without learning a ton (e.g. installing Ubuntu to build a shared workstation, initializing a WordPress site via Pantheon). You can put your own business content into the system and get your own workflow going. Then you can learn to find and load addons from a community that address shared use cases (e.g. apps, packages, themes, plugins), customizing your system and workflow further to support whatever your operation is. Then you can learn to configure things manually to further tune things to your cases. Then you can hire developers or start learning to code yourself to layer your own scripting and extensions on top that are specific to only your use cases. It's easy to dismiss such installations as poorly architected and unmaintainable, but the 20-year old backoffice desktops and cobbled together wordpress sites are the real workhorses of small orgs operating over the last couple decades.
What is the industry working on to bring these sorts of dynamics to the next 10,000 sorts of on-the-ground operations that are repeated around the world. People are jamming this into WordPress all over the place and it's overloading the publishing platform's design. Where's the hot new app framework that's all about creating ecosystems?
We've built all these tools for developers (npm, composer, etc), but not for implementers and experts of human-scale operational systems that we have thousands of around the world because they're inherently actually connected to humans to scale globally.
For example, consider [Courtbot](https://discourse.codeforamerica.org/c/projects/courtbot)
The courtbot project aims to deploy friendly user interfaces county-by-county that help residents navigate interactions with their local court systems. This is an inherently local problem/opportunity, each county's systems and processes are going to infinitely vary. There's no nationally-scalable business model or system that can be built to solve this, but does that need to mean technology can't help the people alreadying doing these things manually in their communities?
There are a handful of court systems that tons of counties use, the Courtbot deployers all around the world should be able to collectively maintain a handful of base distributions that onboarding communities could get started with quickly if their data can be grabbed from one of the common systems. There can be toolkits and tutorials for those that need to build their own base systems. What template and toolkit do the core developers have to follow for setting up. Everyone is pretty much on their own right now like before all the pieces came together to make Personal Computers successful, and making the Macs and Windows and Linux of that transformation is the next big leap we need.
When need hardened FOSS architectures for multi-user online environments, a next iteration in the lineage of GNU/Linux and WordPress and in many ways a sort of hybrid of the two. Core developers standing up projects for public primary schools, or libraries, or public defenders, or independent/small-chain restaurants, or expungement projects, need patterns and tools to draw from so what they create can spawn wordpress-like ecosystems from the start, without them having to spend 10 years and 6 major iterations to shake out how to make config and plugins and themes and 3rd-party managed devops (i.e. pantheon, wpengine, wordpress.com) ecosystem stable.
How to act on it: pick any civic technology project and start solving the problems of making them easy to redeploy to thousands of communities that need to do more options than forking or requesting increasingly complex and specific new configuration options. If you figure out some stable patterns for that that work, make a project of it and start sharing it with other verticals.
A deposit of 32 ether will be required to become a validator — not cheap, but also not astronomically expensive.
Here's a presentation from Devcon5 earlier this month demonstrating an Eth 2.0 client running on a Raspberry Pi:
GPL places no restrictions on how you USE the software.
You can use it for any purpose. You can modify it, adding or deleting code in any way you want.
If you don't redistribute the software, it ends there.
The GPL only comes into play if you redistribute the software. You then have the responsibility to pass on the source code with any modifications you've made so that subsequent users have the same rights you do.
Other licenses like BSD and MIT do not have these restrictions. You could fork and close the software, distributing binaries that do things the users might not agree with but would not be able to discern and counteract.
In the last little while I have been wondering if the negative side effects of forcing others to be open outweigh the benefits.
I don't really have a point. I just think its interesting.
MIT & friends are licenses that benefit developers. GPL family focuses on benefits to end users.
The license restricts people in what they can do with _their_ modification of that code. E.g. whether they can package _their_ modifications of it as closed.
Sounds like a restriction to me.
Sounds like freedom to me.
My freedom to shoot you is limited by your freedom to not be harmed. My freedoms have been limited but this is very fair.
I own a DVD that I can continue to play as long as I own a DVD player. What I'm "buying" from Amazon is a promise that Amazon will continue to give this to me and only me, so long as they are around and available. I can't resell it and I have nothing the moment they cease to exist. That's not ownership.
(Setting aside the somewhat absurd notion of "renting" vs. "buying", when both do the same thing. Renting just requires you to throw away the bits after...)
If you agree with the above, you might like LBRY (https://lbry.com or https://lbry.tech), which in addition to letting you stream or download no-DRM files, permanently records your access rights in a blockchain.
This is true. But the counterpoint is the things you own end up owning you. There's a reason Marie Kondo and the philosophy of minimalism is so popular in this era.
I don't want to have to worry about a thousand DVDs. I don't want to store them. I don't want to keep track of them. I don't want another box to pack up and deal with when moving. I could rip them onto a hard disk. But now I'm managing a virtual inventory instead of a physical inventory. That's an improvement, but it's still a pain in the ass.
Yes Amazon could discontinue its library. No, I'm not worried about it. The chances of a trillion dollar company exiting one of its primary business lines is definitely lower than the chances of me misplacing my DVDs.
There's a reason that services have replaced products to such an extent. Both in consumer and enterprise. And that's because throwing a little bit of extra money at a third party to simplify our already overly messy and disorganized lives is worth the tradeoff.
That being said, I'm sympathetic to Stallman-esque arguments against giving up control. And from an ecosystem level standpoint that's probably bad. But from a purely self-interested standpoint, Amazon is definitely the rational choice. The reality is that services are here to stay, and if we're worried about Stallman-type concerns than we need to build better, freer (as in speech) services.
Perhaps you should. Amazon isn't likely to discontinue the whole service overnight, but individual videos are another story. See also Netflix, on which most of what was interesting has already disappeared.
> And that's because throwing a little bit of extra money at a third party to simplify our already overly messy and disorganized lives is worth the tradeoff.
I sometimes wonder if that's really true. It definitely is if you have a stable cash flow, and the services aren't really that important. But in general, there are costs of choosing a service over a product you own that are non-obvious, or delayed over time. You can't change, adapt, or improve a service yourself. You can't use it outside of its ToS. A service can raise its prices, or go out of business, or otherwise become useless to you - and there's nothing you can do about it, except hoping that a competitor exists and that there's a migration path.
Did you actually buy 1000s of digital movies from Amazon or are you talking about a streaming service (not the same thing)
Paying $10 a month for amazon's movie library streaming access is different than paying $10 per movie for virtual ownership. In one the price is $10 a month. If amazon ends their service I start paying $10 to someone else and pick up where I left off. In the other 1000 movies costs $10k and if amazon ends their service my $10k of virtual ownership is worthless.
There's so many books and films that you're not supposed to care about them individually. They just make a Content library, and you consume Content. Because more Content is continually produced, you'll never run dry of things to put in front of your eyes.
(I don't like this and think it's bad for culture, as it leads to things like the Disney Vault)
(I'm aware that solving this is not as simple as straight out banning exclusive releases.)
One word (OK, two):
Microsoft PlaysForSure 
Standard oil was always going to be around, and then it wasn’t.
AT&T was always going to be around, and then it was broken apart.
There are literally leading democratic candidates for US president that want to break up big tech companies. In two years you could be looking at Amazon being broken up like AT&T into a bunch of shaky companies that sell to other shady ones or just fold up.
I even do that with my digital music collection, just to make it easier to keep an overview.
We also keep original boxes for things like iPads, cameras, etc in case we ever re-sell the product. Then of course, we never do...
Many DVD disks deteriorate within a 30-100 year span to a point where they are essentially unplayable, even when kept in pristine conditions.
And if you are in an environment with extreme temperate swings, they will deteriorate even faster.
I don't think you really understand what Stallman is saying or else you wouldn't be making consumer choices based on pure self-interest.
While it seems unlikely that Amazon would do this, consider that Microsoft has on several occassions with their various attempted music services.
Netflix is subject to licensing agreements, just like cable and broadcast is.
Either by researching before, or by finding something missing, the buyer is going to learn what it is they are buying.
If the consumer can have an "erroneous model of the business in mind" then the business is doing it wrongly...
>Netflix content will vary by region, and may change over time.
“But the plans were on display…”
“On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.”
“That’s the display department.”
“With a flashlight.”
“Ah, well, the lights had probably gone.”
“So had the stairs.”
“But look, you found the notice, didn’t you?”
“Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard.”
Personally I've dusted off my bittorrent seedbox...
Or; as a consumer, why should I care about these things? Just give me my damn TV shows, screw your licensing BS
In the case of GTA San Andreas, the version on steam is now closer to the mobile/tablet version, with significant gameplay changes over the original release.
Comparing it to my original copies on PS2 and pre-Steam PC, it's very different.
Patches should be for fixing bugs, not taking away things people purchased.
I got sick and tired of albums disappearing and reappearing at random, ruining my playlists. Some of my favorite albums were gone for months at a time, with no warning. Not to mention the terrible state of Spotify's catalogue and curation. Wrong information, spelling errors, multiple artists with identical names being confused, you name it.
With my local collection, I can fix the tags and keep track of the correct information.
Monthly subscriptions on the other hand... those could shut down at any time.
Fact of the matter is, you probably don't even want the thing when you are done with it - e.g. shitty 20th edition book that your professor wrote and made you use in their class to make a profit.
Everything on GoG is DRM-free, simple .exe installers that should work without any servers.
I often run games outside of steam so I can let my bf use steam family share at the same time.
I'm not a fan of Steam, so that's not a real alternative for me.
The 7" I bought when I was 10 still plays. So do the tapes I copied in school, though I've moved on from tape. The flacs and mp3s will be around as long as I have a server. I can still play Morrowind - I don't need a server up, and most -not all - online games spoil the game by being online. Quite happy with a LAN mode to play with partner or kids, or ad-hoc server mode to play WAN with friends.
Most online games have been updated so they aren't remotely the same game as they were - especially for things like MMOs, Spotify is an ephemeral radio station, Netflix is reducing what they have every month. Whether it's down to company closing, getting bored of keeping service up for an old game, or stopping your monthly sub, the rate of attrition is frightening.
It was a single player game. There was never anyone to play against. The online aspects were for DRM only.
If we intend to continue into a future of perpetual renting, we at least need stronger renter protections.
What tasted and smelled like ownership is suddenly revealed in moments like this.
It's funny, because I'm grateful to have an excuse not to listen to these anymore. But in both cases it was quite disappointing to my kid (and irritating on principle).
Kids love to consume the same thing over and over again. Netflix has a similar effect: beloved tv or movies are suddenly gone without a trace, and no warning that they will be disappearing.
Definitely a low-stakes relatable example.
"We just won't tell them this netflix show is going away, it will just upset people. Maybe they won't notice."
(although they do say something about your queue a short time before it disappears)
To me every new service feels like another leech sucking at my wallet, of which there are far too many. I much prefer the collections of flacs and mp3s to Spotify and my personal media archive to having a dozen different streaming video subscriptions.
E.g: All logins (including local LAN) go through their servers.
I feel this too, but at the same time I wonder how much of this feeling is due to a scarcity mindset. It used to be you had a small, finite amount of music, movies, games etc. and so each one individually was valuable. Maybe people who've grown up in the Netflix/Spotify era just don't get personally attached to particular shows the way we do? There's an infinite amount of stuff to consume so if the thing you were looking for isn't there any more, just have something else.
Having an endless stream of music just isn't quite as satisfying as picking out the tunes I resonate with and hearing them again and again. And this is exactly what happens when I listen to music streams: I get the urge to pick out the tunes I like. But only after I've heard the same song more than a couple times (it takes time to bond).
I think music becomes kind of an anchor you can (attempt to) rely on when everything else in the world around you is changing. Friends, home town, jobs, apartments, all change... that makes music that remains the same after a decade all that much more comforting.
I'm hopeful creative solutions with decentralization will allow you to retain control even though the vault is in the hands of someone else.
This was good for businesses wanting to quickly get onboard new technologies but it has real downsides because all these systems are scattered across the world and managed independently, making them more distributed, less transactional (more corruptible) and less tailored to the specific industries they're used in.
Overly distributed systems are fundamentally hard and fundamentally inefficient ( https://groups.csail.mit.edu/tds/papers/Lynch/podc89.pdf ). Data that spends more time in memory and cpu cache instead of being thrown over global networks can be processed a lot more efficiently.
Also, if your infrastructure is made of a lot of components that anyone can buy, it's much likely for competition to emerge. You lose an important moat. Plus, oftentimes, the outside organizations holding your data can leverage it to make you pay high prices.
The next decade might be about recreating the logic of these cobbled together generic saas systems into streamlined and fully tailored software systems for each industry. There is now a lot of mature open source code for companies to use as a foundation.
As the article suggests, this could also allow moving towards fully owning data and stack instead of having too much in other companies' platforms. There is probably more incentive for this reshoring of data and software to happen for businesses so it might happen there before it does for consumers.
Invested in building your workflow on a SaaS system and it's become critical to your business? It doesn't matter how much you depend on it, or how useful it is to you, you have _no rights_ that top the backers' playing their numbers
This effect gets worse the closer to the ground you get, where small orgs don't have the technical capacity to absorb such disruptions. Small orgs are being conditioned to avoid depending on technology, or at least to avoid depending on specialized technology. The net effect this will have is creating yet another bias towards concentrated power winning in the marketplace
Learn a trade. Be useful. Save your money. You don’t need a moat if you’re useful and have savings.
By building moats you are selling our children’s future to corporate scavengers.
This is true, plain old HTML files just depended on the browser's compatibility. Whereas modern node_modules based projects also depend on thousands, sometimes tens of thousands additional npm dependencies...
What I've learnt with opening old node projects (2 years+), is that you better be ready to fix some things, thank god it's all open-source!
It feels like there's something super important/relevant about that throwaway comment, but I can't quite put my finger on what.
Beyond the idea that you wouldn't even be able to fix what you had built yourself if it wasn't all open source. Perhaps it just resonates with the idea that if something is open source, everybody owns it and nobody owns it at the same time?
Perhaps GP was talking about working with other people's node projects?
The dependencies on "fonts" or "media" from the googles and the CDNs are tracking plays. (decentraleyes plugin ftw)
I wonder if our app-based ecosystem is really the "future". The reason is simple: apps lock you down. Apps store your data somewhere you don't have access to, and you can't control your data. Sometimes you even can't move your work to another device. On the other hand, file-based storage naturally encourages data migration.
Also, file-based storage allows 3rd party integration. You can use applications from different companies and of different purposes to work on the same piece of data. Even in case of software development, source code can be edited with various editors, compiled with compatible compilers, analyzed with lints and formatters, and revision-controlled through git, svn, or random custom solutions, where all those tools are developed by different parties. I don't think app-based ecosystem can achieve this level of freedom, versatility and flexibility at once.
So, no. Files are not the thing of the past, nor should be buried deep below "future" stack. It should be kept as an official backdoor to give users precise control over their data.
'Isn’t it basically the cliff house in Walnut Canyon? Isn’t it the stone box?'
“Look, I have my own little stone box here in this canyon! I can grow my own beans and corn. I harvest some prickly pear. I’m super advanced here.”
'Why shouldn’t it vanish like the cliff people vanished?'
'Then we look back in nostalgia at the Personal Computer world. It’s not that we were forced out of our stone boxes in the canyon. We weren’t driven away by force. We just mysteriously left. It was like the waning of the moon.
They were too limiting, somehow. They computed, but they just didn’t do enough for us. They seemed like a fantastic way forward, but somehow they were actually getting in the way of our experience.'
"Mysteriously", as in "getting dragged out kicking and screaming by an industry that realized providing a service makes for a way better business than selling software".
I honestly don't think many users wanted to give up ownership in trade of access. At least I know enough non-technical people that cling to their files collections for dear life. However, what they of course want is to take part in modern life and not stay behind on technology. And if you don't want to miss that, there is hardly a way around services these days.
(There is the valid point of troubleshooting and maintenance. Your very own personal computer is wonderful until something stops working. However, I think most non-technical people dealt with this problem the same way you'd deal with a broken car: They'd ask someone knowledgeable to "fix" it, either a family member, company admin or commercial service.
However, I don't think many people were desperately wishing for their hardware manufacturer or software developer to have a permanent link to their PC, just so they can fix the occasional problem.)
> We weren’t driven away by force.
The amount of effort Microsoft had to employ to make people stop using Windows XP tells a different story.
Few people kicked and screamed as they bought Spotify. It turns out that streaming a wide variety of music for an access fee is a pretty good sell. Few people kicked and screamed as they picked Gmail over Postfix, turns out a portable, maintenance-free, magic email inbox with practically unlimited storage is exactly what people wanted, no coercion needed. They didn't just desperately wish for their hardware and software to have a permanent link to their PC, they went one step further and gave it money and attention.
Maybe I'm completely wrong. Easy way to find out: go make your own broadly successful "owned" software business. Consumers are clamoring for it, aren't they? I'm sure there's plenty of money in selling one-time-fee project management software for customers to own and setup themselves. I mean, who wouldn't want to pay a one-time fee for self-hosted email software that generously provides the "your own friends and family" support package?
That's false. Consumers don't decide shit. They don't compare things they see to what they could be, they chose from what's available. Add to that the sales and marketing doing their best to hide the true costs of their offerings, and you have what you have today - customers being played like a fiddle, coaxed towards making suboptimal choices.
> Few people kicked and screamed as they bought Spotify. It turns out that streaming a wide variety of music for an access fee is a pretty good sell.
Spotify was a legal alternative to pirating music, that was one of their bigger selling point.
> Few people kicked and screamed as they picked Gmail over Postfix
GMail, at least for now, still lets you own the data. The story may change if they ever decide to shut down IMAP access.
> Consumers are clamoring for it, aren't they?
They are, after they get burned a couple of times. See also the reactions to Adobe or Jetbrains going SaaS; the latter actually yielded under pressure and brought back the perpetual licenses.
It's hard to compete with SaaS on price and convenience, because benefits are immediate and true costs are delayed. "Free basic, $9/month advanced" for a shiny-looking product is great at the point of customer acquisition; it's only later on that the customer discovers that the service sucks under any reasonable workload, in one year it costs 1.5x as much, and in 5 years it may just be gone, taking all your data with it.
This wouldn't have happened if they were wrong; after people have seen how much easier it is to let internet businesses handle things for them, most people decide to put more stuff on there for convenience; and new users tend to follow what the large majority of other people suggest when getting online for the first time since those other users know it's easier and more secure for them to just let the third parties handle things. The only people that got "dragged out kicking and screaming" were the ones that saw what other people were giving up when they started suggesting new users not even attempt the on-device method of using their computer/phone. After enough time, the devices themselves were able to directly integrate this lifestyle since not many people would actively protest this sort of onboarding.
I think most people don't understand the risks they take by putting everything on Google Drive and throwing their entire business behind Google and BeyondCorp; but the biggest concerns with this model, such as a user account getting suspended almost never happen to the average user of said service. Negative word of mouth is extremely detrimental, but since nobody that's not doing obviously less-than-normal things (such as installing third-party YT apps that block ads then complaining when their G account is suspended) talks about their account being suspended, regular people only vaguely are aware that they could break <x TOS clause> and lose everything. Services getting shut down are a threat, but I don't think anyone at all thinks YouTube, Gmail, or Drive, arguably their most used services, are going to shut down any time in the future.
> The amount of effort Microsoft had to employ to make people stop using Windows XP tells a different story.
I still occasionally see XP used, usually at places like furniture stores :)
As if you could do that today.
> It faithfully executes all your commands.
This is part of the reason why industries and governments are trying to get rid of the personal computer. It obeys us and not them. If we decide we want to violate some contract, the computer will make it possible and there's nothing industry can do about it. If we decide we want to encrypt some data, the computer will make it possible and the government will just have to deal with it or become a tyrant that assumes we're all guilty by default. If we decide we want to make "unauthorized" copies, the computer will do it without a care in the world about what some stakeholders think.
We have the keys to the machine. It is obvious why they want to take it away.
> They seemed like a fantastic way forward, but somehow they were actually getting in the way of our experience.
Personal computers definitely got in the way of the artificial scarcity, personal information collection, advertising and other harmful and exploitative experiences. Hopefully it will get in the way of even more.
Ha, this is a common way to get on the frontpage of Hacker News.
I wonder if is a special case of "surprise" - things that are surprising have more information value, and people react to information.
There's also the aspect of something being wrong - if something is wrong, people want to correct it - often angrily if the source advancing the wrong viewpoint is obstinate - and that's engagement.
I wonder if both of those can be teased out. Like, if something is surprising and correct, what's the engagement of that? That probably doesn't drive engagement as much as surprising and wrong.
Fortunately, most of the things that I find valuable are things that I can host myself (giving me both stability and convenience), and I can easily do without those things that I can't.
My approach is certainly not for everyone, but it's the best solution for me.
In this regard the phones feel like a step backwards as each app really manages its own data. Email programs these days are like that -- for example you can't keep a project's mail folder with its files any more.
There are a couple of orthogonal concepts are work here a) how data is stored, in files with a well-known format, in files with a proprietary format, or perhaps in some kind of database b) who has control of the data, perhaps defined by who would be able to delete it, or whether the data would cease to be accessible if a particular organization ceased to exist.
Do people access their music through their apps instead of a file manager these days? Sure. But how does it get into the apps in the first place? I couldn't find half of my music library on amazon, let alone the money to actually buy it. The same applies to tech books, even more glaringly so because there is no streaming option.
Do people use GMail as a quasi-storage for everything they need to keep up with in life? Yeah. Do they want to use it that way? Not really. It doesn't scale up that well, and yes, you will slam into Google's 15GB limit soon enough. So at least I only have the "temporary" stuff on GMail, for a wide but not all-encompassing notion of "temporary". I'm not aware of anyone storing family photos on GMail.
And that's just the stuff we consume. As for producing, there's very little you can do without working with files at least a bit. Attach a photo to a post, run a python script, exchange documents with someone who isn't using the same clouds as you... Actually, even if all of your stuff is on clouds, you'll sooner or later want or have to move it around between different clouds, and what do you export it to? Files.
My music collection, my peers music collections, my mother's music collection... they are Spotify.
I have a friend who DJ's and he has the tracks themselves, but only to remove the internet dependency. The consumers of his kind of cutting edge not on Spotify music get it on Soundcloud.
Tech books? I do have some. I did buy some this year. However my consumption of blog posts, wikis, pdfs of papers, forums, moocs and stack overflows dwarfs all physical reading.
I hate to say it, but production has seen movement away from files. There is a Photoshop extension that allows graphic designers to "connect" the image into the wordpress assets (which auto creates varioud sizes) and tye marketer selects the asset from a web ui list.
I've seen CMS' that let you write js "handlers" that are shoved into the db and can be attached to buttons or page loads etc.
For your last point - moving between clouds - you use a service. Multcloud is just one example.
Its scary just how far things have come.
If those songs disappeared from your favorite streaming apps where would you get them? If you don't have a copy, it can be gone at any time with no warning or notice to you and you'd be left with nothing. If I were one copyright dispute or licensing problem away from losing my media collection I'd be panicked. Music streaming has it's place, but you shouldn't expect that you'll be able to hear those songs tomorrow let alone share them with your kids and your children's children.
If you value something, save a copy of it for yourself in a format free from DRM or accept that one day it will be gone and you will have nothing but your memories and loss.
Hardly, but their selection is impressive. What music Spotify has available is entirely dependent on agreements with the artist or, far more often, the music label. Those agreements are subject to change or expire, and songs are routinely offered for a time then removed (sometimes to be added back later) and can be subject to additional limitations such as having their availability limited to specific countries. It's basically the same situation as Netflix with movies and TV shows. Sometimes you can find copies uploaded by others to youtube, pirate trackers, or other hosting sites and sometimes you can't.
Streaming services will likely continue to exist for a very long time. Streaming services that provide the specific songs you want to hear or enjoy on Spotify today are not guaranteed and that likelihood decreases significantly as time goes on and your tastes diverge from the mainstream.
If all you listen to are top 40 radio hits you'll probably never have a problem finding copies of the songs you like in some form or another. Whatever has replaced Spotify 50 years from now will likely still be full of The Beatles and Brittany Spears. Even today I find there are songs that are hard to find, albums that are out of print and not available from streaming sites. As people move away from physical media and depend on the shifting sands of streaming music providers I expect the problem will only grow with time.
> How often do you dig up songs you listened to 20 years ago?
Constantly. Not that I'm only listening to songs from 20+ years ago, but my current playlist has songs from the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s and most playlists I create tend to as well. Not everyone cares about music and may not mind if they never get to hear their favorite songs again by next year, but I suspect many of the younger ones who feel that way now will at one point in their lives want to go back and hear songs they grew up listening to.
Lucio Battisti is possibly the most popular songwriter in Italy ever. His songs were added to Spotify one month ago for the first time. And even now, the catalogue is not complete.
The Beatles today are there, but they were missing for a long time. King Crimson have been added in June.
I don't know what you mean by "essentially every song", but they are just now adding albums from the most popular artists, I would think many minor things are still missing
2010: There's an App for that
2019: There's a Google service for that*
*: at risk of shutting down depending on the number of years since last product update
But really isn't it just us trusting Gmail not to pull our access?
Also, lol. "100 years ago, food came from a farm, then it came for [sic] a grocery store, and now it comes from DoorDash."
I'm pretty sure most people didn't own their own farm in the 1920s... So what is this saying about ownership?
But they did own it in the sense of day-to-day control. Soviet Union turned farming into service, a move that caused lots of suffering and is widely remembered today as a Bad Idea.
To them, we're all just interchangeable cogs in the machine, our input and experience is not important, we're just supposed to fit in a predefined box.
Natives that started with 3.5 and 5 1/4 floppies in the 80's vs starting when Gmail went from MB's to GB's in the mid/late 2k's probably view files much differently.
In 2019, we can carry 1 TB+ on a smartphone, so the next gen of natives may actually find a new appreciation for files and ownership (plus newfound privacy, not relying on expensive data plans and working/playing from anywhere w/o requiring a connection for most things).
Once storage and connections can exceed 10 Gb transfer rates on mobile, it'll take around 15 minutes to fill per TB... And the next era/counter trend begins!
The kids nowadays have it so easy (minus getting overserviced by every industry at the same time, being fed doom and gloom about climate change everyday and basically getting raked over the coals by pre-existing debt that was not of their doing).
I agree with the practical aspect of having a digital library but the problem is you relinquish almost all aspects of ownership when you purchase a digital product. When you own a digital product you have whatever version its owner decided to share at that time in history and that represents a crucial difference, which enables things like a movie cut differently from its initial release, a remastered/clean/censored version of a song instead of the original, games with certain features, songs or items removed due to expired licenses.
We're now in a situation where most people got used to this model without giving it any second thoughts because of comfort and any changes that give users more control are unlikely to happen.
If everything is a service then is everyone a consumer?
Linux is better but the tradeoff is ease & convenience-- like the author said.
(Details of packagers, packaging, deps resolution, etc., also matter.)
But that is a service offered, to revive an old fashioned term, not based on commerce but with grace.
This is different if you own the service, but that's another matter entirely.
Most people don't want to/can't run their own backup service, so they count on the services they use to keep things alive.
Add to that users wanting to use multiple devices.
Maybe I'm over estimating software literacy but many people who want these things often write their own solutions or do without shiny new things which are often just cloud based versions of the old!
You can subscribe to Spotify or some equivalent, but you can also buy CDs, buy Vinyls, DRM-free versions of just that one song you want off an album, you can play the song you want off the Piano, or find it in a game, or listen to the radio (AM, FM, even Satellite!), or go to a live show, or download someone else’s recording of a live show. You can partake in all of these ways or any combination thereof, and I forgot to even mention music boxes!
I think it’s more fair to say “Everything is amazing, but you don’t have to own all of it to enjoy it”. Some things are tangible and worth having in a hard copy so to speak, and some things are ephemeral so enjoy them while you can, for nothing and no things last forever.
Examples: Games nowadays (some have drm, some are online only). Anything adobe. Smartphones. Cars.
There’s an abundance of games, and yes, some of them have a shelf life and abusive to their customers. Those games are what I would call ephemeral experiences, or at least they are deeper into the ephemeral experience end than games available for purchases.
Artificial scarcity means the only choices available to you are the choices the copyright holders want you to have.
Call me over when you can stop buying music, not for the lone example or two where some artist has gone all in on crap like Spotify and refuses to sell their music anywhere.
I don't necessarily agree with the abundance premise. Worlds of dependencies are worlds that demand time-consuming labor (ours or someone else's) to resolve and manage those dependencies, and time today is considerably more scarce than matter or energy. Even worse time unlike matter or energy cannot be manufactured or extracted with increasing efficiency. We have only so much time, period.
I remain unconvinced that post-skeuomorphism and everything-is-a-service are steps forward. In particular everything-is-a-service seems to work well only in domains where the thing being offered actually is a service in that it actually does require a continuous input of something behind the scenes.
Home and land ownership is one of trickiest types of ownership. It turns out, that in democratic and civilized sosieties you don't actually own realty. You lease it with significant restrictions.
Inheritance laws make it even more clear. Law might decide that particular part of property is valued $x euro. A trademark. A patent. An option. So, you must cede control of this part of inherited good to state. If you truly owned it, inheritance taxes would be zero.
I wrote a piece offering a counterpoint to this view five years ago (in response to a similar article by Fred Wilson) and I think most of the points still hold true today:
That could get interesting unpiecing that a decade later. Scavenger hunts for old versions...