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It's an interesting view of history, but without providing your reasoning for why you think the pendulum is about to swing again I have to assume that it is not.



I agree. While I can follow the author's reasoning about the history of computing (particularly his assertion that computing was most democratic in the 1980s), he doesn't reveal the sources for his optimism, apart from stating:

If my observations are correct then such a swing is about to happen, and this time we had better get it right.

The interesting part, which is missing, would be a list of such observations.


The iPad being seen as a store for Apple. The Kindles being seen as a store for Amazon. The Nook being seen as a store for Barnes & Noble. Those are just three too damned obvious examples that are totally against the grain of the history of computing he -- and I -- lived through. That's part of the pendulum right there.

Also, writers and publishers and musicians not wanting DRM but the stores -- Apple, Amazon, et al -- insisting on it. Another pendulum swing. You wind up not even having total control over your own product.

Fake DRM takedowns to stifle competition (see the Vinted thing with Kickstarter).

The battle over whether GPS tracking does or doesn't require a court order.

All the evidence is out there and I'm surprised any of you need someone else to create such a list.

And, shit, I'm a writer and I now want to learn JavaScript because I think something like Open webOS (or the Mozilla OS) is the future we'll all be running towards for technological self-defense and freedom. The path we're currently on is a noose that can hang all of us.


But there is no DRM for music in Apple's store (it was dropped entirely in 2009), and Amazon sells DRM free music too.


I think that the ‘openmoko’ phone was an (too) early attempt at forcing a reversal. The raspberry pi may be a key component here (it shares a lot of its heritage with a large number of smartphones)...

If my observations are correct then such a swing is about to happen, and this time we had better get it right. Things that point in the direction of a swing are an increasing awareness of ordinary computer users with respect to their privacy and who actually owns all that data. The fragmenting of the smartphone and tablet markets will lead to some more openness and at some point all the bits and pieces to create true open hardware will fall into place. FPGAs, 3D printing and some more ingredients will make it possible to generate very capable hardware and versatile on a relatively small budget. A mobile platform consisting of a standard phone/3G/wifi module, an FPGA and a standard touch screen would be pretty formidable and is almost within reach.

The whole paragraph is a list of observations and reasoning.


Rather than assuming that it's not you could concede that since it has moved in the past, and it may move again.

But pragmatically, what to do about it? I don't think answers such as "don't buy" proprietary or closed source has any effect, since enough others do and will continue to do so. One option may be to (continue ?) to develop unrestrict[ed |ive] software that is more desirable than the closed equivalent. But as we know, that's not easy.


Not really. Consumer software is still a young enough industry that a couple of data points are not enough to draw definitive conclusions on. There are plenty of industries that began with a period of openness but eventually settles into an oligopoly due to cost, patents, and government regulation. Look how hard it is to DIY a laptop, and that's part of a relatively open system.

The government (by which I mean political interests) want to regulate the internet badly and are just waiting for the opportunity/event to occur that allows them to form enough of a consensus to do so. You can't put the genie back in the bottle completely, there will always be open computing and open protocols, but the idea that computers will always be a platform from which "a couple of kids in a garage" can launch a revolution; I think that is far from a sure thing.

> But pragmatically, what to do about it? I don't think answers such as "don't buy" proprietary or closed source has any effect, since enough others do and will continue to do so. One option may be to (continue ?) to develop unrestrict[ed |ive] software that is more desirable than the closed equivalent. But as we know, that's not easy.

What was it about the web that made it more desirable to Prodigy, AOL? I'd love to see accounts from insiders in the industry at the time that that disruption took place. It's easy to say in hindsight that the web was better but why did people at the time think it was better?


> What was it about the web that made it more desirable to Prodigy, AOL?

In my experience, the web offered connectivity. We built some very early web-based Order management tools, back when Amazon was taking phone orders. Then we realized that "Hey, with a browser & modem, employees can do their work at home!" This was pre-firewalls, and you had to know the IP.

If we can ensure that we retain connectivity between services we operate, we're in a good place.

The web didn't win because of content. Many people think web content is better than it actually is. What's 1000X better than Google? LexisNexis. Searching LN via a 14.4 modems returned better, more detailed and richer information much faster than 100Mbits and Google today, because the relevance was insane. And for the obscure niche information there was always NNTP.


You're right, I should have enumerated the reasons why I think that we may have one more chance in the near future, I will do so later.

And I agree that it is far from a sure thing. I wished it was.


I think the reason is that IT is no longer a component that has some limited purpose in various professional and personal aspects of life. IT is quickly becoming the platform for everything else. As such it is going to be regulated just as strictly as banks or utilities.




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