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The Un-Internet and War On General Purpose Computers 266

theodp writes "Apple,' writes Dave Winer in The Un-Internet, 'is providing a bad example for younger, smaller companies like Twitter and Tumblr, who apparently want to control the 'user experience' of their platforms in much the same way as Apple does. They feel they have a better sense of quality than the randomness of a free market. So they've installed similar controls.' Still, Winer's seen this movie before and notes, 'Eventually we overcome their barriers, and another layer comes on. And the upstarts become the installed-base, and they make the same mistakes all over again. It's the Internet vs the Un-Internet. And the Internet, it seems, always prevails.' Thinking along the same lines, Cory Doctorow warns the stakes are only going to get higher, and issues a call-to-arms for The Coming War on General Purpose Computation."
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The Un-Internet and War On General Purpose Computers

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  • Really? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 01, 2012 @03:38PM (#38557712)

    Oh for God's sake... Name one thing Apple prevents you from doing on OS X. Not a feature they left out, not a Windows app you like that isn't available, not a hack to customize Windows that isn't also present on Macs, but something that Apple EXPLICITLY PREVENTS YOU OR ANYONE FROM DOING.

  • Re:Deal with it (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 01, 2012 @04:11PM (#38557904)

    Try it. Try jumping into any market dominated by a/some big player(s). You'll be immediately sued into oblivion, and consumed by the dominant faction(s). It's a crappy time to be an entrepreneur motivated by wealth; the traditional paths to riches just don't exist any more. The only real path to an open market is to release the "product" for free and count on patronage to support it. So, in this article's context, the ability the make one's own hardware using commonly available materials and machinery. Yes, it's not going to pay as well as traditional methods have. No, there is no certainty you are going to recoup your investment. But, you are not going to be allowed into that market (unless you comply with market niche's Overlords) any way; if you try and play by the traditional market rules, the dominant player(s) will ensure you fail. It seems clear that using the traditional market for personal gain is not the most effective choice for a startup any more.

  • Re:Really? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 01, 2012 @04:16PM (#38557942)

    He probably did BUT

    I actually don't mind the approach that Apple took with the iPhone and then the iPad.
    No Flash! What a great idea.
    So it is a walled garden. Well for some things I want to be sure that what I do is safe.
    I had an iPhone 3gs and then a 4. Now I have a HTC Sensation.
    Frankly, IMHO when compared to the iPhone 4, the HTC is a POS. If you view some of the forums, there are a number of well known issues with the device. Issues that HTC seemingly have no interest in fixing.

    WIth the recent scares about printers being a security risk, it is obvious that there are people determined to exploit any opportunity to exploit the kit we use. I have to wonder how long it will be before some exploit is found in old versions of Android. Versions that the manufacturers will not fix in a year of Sundays. Exactly how is the openness of Android protecting me then? don't say 'You can root it and load some unapproved software'. How many of the phone using public could do that then? They won't. That will leave them using devices that could be part of the biggest botnet the world has seen (to use one possibility). What use is Android being open then? Naf all IMHO.

    So in reality, it is not so open and shut as some may think.

  • Re:Really? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Reeses ( 5069 ) on Sunday January 01, 2012 @04:27PM (#38558002)

    One thing?

    Hook a debugger/stack trace software up to iTunes to see what's going on.

  • Re:Really? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 01, 2012 @05:03PM (#38558236)

    publish a gay travel guide app for Iphone or Ipad

  • by ibsteve2u ( 1184603 ) on Sunday January 01, 2012 @05:08PM (#38558286)
    They have to dumb down both of them to control them both. Good for the vendor, but the society?

    Me, I don't think a society which manages to make their citizens an interchangeable commodity with a well-defined but artificially limited set of skills that match a narrow range of "appliances" is going to be "cutting-edge" in anything; rather, as a monoculture they - and their "appliances" - will be sitting ducks for the electronic version of Phytophthora infestans just as Ireland - and the potato - were in 1845.
  • by Phoenix666 ( 184391 ) on Sunday January 01, 2012 @06:00PM (#38558636)

    about what's going to happen when 3D printing and bioscale assemblers hit the mainstream. Right now we're having trouble because the [MP/RI]AA, who represent comparatively tiny industries, are pushing to destroy open systems. Imagine what happens when the Monsanto's and Walmarts of the world jump on the bandwagon because consumers stop consuming and start manufacturing on their own.

    I imagine that if we win that battle an era of unparalleled advancement, freedom, and opportunity for humanity lies on the other side; however, the powers that be will not go quietly, and there will likely be an unprecedented era of repression that will only be overcome with a great deal of trouble and not a little bloodshed.

    The only way I can imagine it breaking our way without said bloodshed is if we plan it such that it all happens at once everywhere from as many places as possible, using darknets, ad-hoc mesh networks, and other ways to ensure freedom of information and clever replication schemes to make sure you, me, and everyone we know gets in on the quantum leap in capability immediately instead of the usual diffusion model that has been constant in human history. That is, we can't afford to wait the 20 years for everyone to get a computer and online to get everyone's hands on 3D printers; and that means we have to build dead-simple interfaces into those technologies from the outset to cut the learning curve to zero.

    We can't give the powers that be time to react. We can't give them the chance to divide, deflect, and defeat the change.

  • Re:Free market? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by aaaaaaargh! ( 1150173 ) on Sunday January 01, 2012 @06:52PM (#38558950)

    Open computers won't go away

    What makes you so sure of that?

    We've already got tens of thousands of software patents in the hand of large corporations, EULAs that essentially substitute buying for leasing/renting software, Cloud services rapidly replace existing freer and more distributed solutions (Usenet, email, etc.), and a more oppressive copyright law passes every few years ( DMCA, SOPA, what will be next?). What if GNU/Linux distributors and FOSS developers are starting to get sued successfully? What if they don't have large enough patent portfolios to defend themselves? Fast-forward twenty years and general purpose computer programming or even just owning a general purpose computer could be prohibited. You think that's impossible? Who will prevent it? The Government?

    Besides, the less general purpose computers are used, the more they will cost, so even if they don't go away anybody who likes these machines has reasons to be concerned.

  • Re:Really? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by BronsCon ( 927697 ) <> on Sunday January 01, 2012 @07:17PM (#38559162) Journal

    Price out a Mac. Go ahead, go for a top-of-the-line machine.

    Now, price out a PC with identical specs and no OS. We'll account for the OS later. Be sure to choose quality components, here; match the performance and quality of the Mac you just priced out as closely as possible. Where you can't find an exact match, opt for the higher-performance part; you'll understand why, later.

    Then, subtract the price of the PC from the price of the Mac. That's the cost of OSX for that machine; the full, non-upgrade version.

    Now, find pricing for full versions of windows. To be fair, we'll go with Win 7 Professional for this, as includes similar functionality to OSX. Home Premium lacks the backup functionality and some of the configurability, Premium includes features you can't get in OSX.

    Subtract the price of Win 7 Professional (currently $299.99, direct from MS) from the cost of OSX. This is how much more OSX costs than Windows.

    That said, yes, with Windows 7 Professional priced at $199.99 for an upgrade, the $29.99 OSX Lion upgrade is cheaper by $170.00. With that said, how many times do you have to upgrade both operating systems before you come out ahead with OSX?

  • Re:Really? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Waccoon ( 1186667 ) on Sunday January 01, 2012 @10:34PM (#38560292)

    No Flash! What a great idea.

    Not to me, and given how popular it became and how badly the competition failed to dethrone it, apparently much of the world doesn't agree with you, either. There really is no other platform for making decent multimedia, except arguably Java. Apple hates both, BTW, just as they hate all virtual machines, like emulators.

    I've always watched Flash cartoons and wanted to write oekaki software (an online paint program) instead of playing games or watching ads. Without Flash and Java, and HTML5 being something of a bad joke, there really aren't many options.

    But then, I suppose this is the fault of the world for not making an alternative to Flash, and not Flash itself. If there were 3 multimedia platforms like Flash competing for market share, and all three had a few security issues, and Apple banned all 3 of them, would you be as happy?

    I find it a bit odd that some of the people who support openness, most notably the Linux community, have been gushing over Apple and their tendency to outright ban things the company doesn't like. Don't like what you say but support your right to say it, blah blah blah.

    So it is a walled garden. Well for some things I want to be sure that what I do is safe.

    Then by default it should be disabled or not installed. Most people will use the defaults. By default, a sandbox and virtual filesystem should be in place, and the browser could simply not share cookies and other user data with plugins. There are plenty of ways to go about this other than, "Thou shall not use software except that written by us."

    Sounds to me that you're less upset about Flash being available on your device, and more upset over the fact that many web sites still use it. Wishing for 3rd-party apps to be banned on mobile devices isn't exactly a solution.

    Exactly how is the openness of Android protecting me then?

    How exactly is the closed nature of iOS protecting you more? Do you trust Apple more than any other company to fix security flaws on day 1, given their penchant for secrecy? Why? Is this based on the company's reputation for fixing problems or the closed and limited nature of the code? Is Apple really more likely than anyone else to fix a security flaw in a 3-year-old product?

    I think you're confusing openness with reputation. Just because 90% of everything is crud doesn't mean only 1% is good.

Someday somebody has got to decide whether the typewriter is the machine, or the person who operates it.