How to be better at being pissed off at Big Tech


#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/03/05/a-better-world-is-possible.html


#2

Here is a helpful instructional video. Should start at 1:41.


#3

A p2p version of Facebook. Just popped into my head. I’m sure it’s been tried and done.


#4

I like the main thrust. It’s like, when free-thinking types were excited about the promise of cyberspace in the 90s, the dream was largely framed in opposition to the big dumb corporate forces of the time (AT&T, Microsoft, government bureaucracy), which nimble hackers would run circles around, letting the behemoths create the technology but co-opting it to serve individual creativity. And we could recapture something like that optimism today, by recasting the Big Bad as Facebook and Google. I like that idea, there’s a lot to think about there.

What I didn’t like so much, and was surprised by, was the defense of the conventional wisdom about ad-supported “free” services versus simply paying for stuff. Yeah, it’s better to get things for free, but ad-supported services aren’t free, they just cloak the costs in sinister and byzantine ways. Yes, ads let poor people receive media without paying for it, but it turns out that if you’re too poor to be valuable to car advertisers, Facebook will just sell your eyeballs to Russian propagandists at bargain-basement prices instead.

If you want to talk about ad-supported media in terms of market forces, and ignore the mental health side, then consider YouTube. Because tubers make money from ads, which requires enormous volume to be financially viable, that directly causes the star-system problem which Jaron Lanier dissects in You Are Not a Gadget. In the ad-supported world, you’re either a millionaire or broke. But when you think about Patreon-supported podcasts, or zines, those are rich and vibrant, and cheap, because people don’t expect to make more than a moderate teacher’s salary at best. We have the sense that YouTube pays really well, and therefore would be prohibitively expensive as a paid-for service; but like everything else in the ad economy, that’s a con. YouTube pays shittily, but disguises it by paying creators in lottery tickets instead of cash, so you see the handful of winners and not the millions of creators working for free.


#5

Of course, ignoring and destroying the computer ultimately kills them…


#6

Because Americans have had such great success defeating other recent societal issues (like inequality, gun culture).
… but maybe the clue is in the title, get pissed off with something (but don’t do anything about it).


#7

And it doesn’t have to be a black/white answer,IE, accept surveillance or stay offline. There are programs, multiple platforms, that allow you to stay in touch with friends in a secure way. When you run info a family member who won’t budge off Fecesbook, well, their choice doesn’t have to be yours. If they insist on being stupid, you don’t have to enable them.

Never used FB, never will.


#8

I never liked Facebook, personally, having joined back when Friendster was still viable competition. And I don’t for one second think myself original/rebellious/whatever braggadocio nonsense people claim when they say “i’m not on FB because…” Just don’t care for the platform, and prefer my online anonymity, such as it still exists.

That said, I’ve turned back to usenets as of late. Turns out quite a lot of people have (or just never left).

Why do I say that?

Because the only way to be ‘pissed off’ at these mammoths of online life is to LEAVE.

They have zero incentive to care about what the general public thinks, says, posts, blogs, or says in the chambers of government. We are their product and their revenue stream. They will never stop until doing so is more profitable than maintaining the status quo.

Just look at the content info on the top right of the BB footer. This is (arguably) one of the best independent publications in the world - and if you don’t think so, try to find a single piece on the home page where they pulled their punches - and it still links to Twitter on an article about hating big tech. If I didn’t have social- and ad-blockers stacked to the hilt on my browser, I’d not be surprised if there were even more ‘follow us’ boxes and ad-ring clickbait stories wrapped around this very post.

It works in some zombie universes and in almost all killer-creature scenarios: the beast dies if you starve it.

You won’t be a hero for walking away and chipping at their revenue. You won’t even have a decent this-is-what-I-stand-for anecdote to tell at parties (assuming you’re not simply amused at the paper-thin excuses people will give for walking away). You’ll in fact be kind of an obstinate dick who is harder to contact than everyone else, resulting in few invites and tertiary friends.

You don’t win - granted you might not give a shit either.

They do lose.

That’s how to be pissed off: try to make an impact that might actually make the offender stop offending.


#9

the only tech gadgets that hit me somewhere…

there was a certain site title mandarin design showed how to up your blog with
interesting snippets of code

and then there was that letter from arthur c clarke


#10

I am fairly convinced that much more could be done to control malware and spam, than is currently being done. Not at all sure who to lobby for such a change, though.


#11

Well, the folks who run spyware and malware networks pay advertisers to host their shit, and website owners give advertisers a share of the money they make from eyeballs, and adnetworks are pretty much enabled by default in all browsers, and you have to get extra tools to block ads. Websites keep complaining that too many users block ads, although I only do it to prevent my own machines from getting infected with malware, since ad networks will literally let anyone serve out literally any scripting to all of their clients all the time, and never seem to do much in the way of preventing bad actors from using their resources.

So… your guess is as good as mine.


#12

Is that a real thing? I had this exact idea years ago, because I have a pretty damn nice film camera with good, Japanese made lenses, and it’s just siting in a Pelican case.

I think something that allowed us to take digital pics with the old school cameras would be awesome.


#13

the e-film item was but hardly made 1 meg not even for pretty pictures…
and there were professionals who wanted to then
I had a fairly comprehensive 35mm system sent it for free to this guy on flickr
that repairs them as the guy in my country took offence when I asked him
who’s going to take over his operation when he goes (circa 1990’s)


#14

Yeah, some individuals are enjoying perverse incentives here. At a significant cost to everyone else!

Spam volume takes up half to three quarters of all email traffic in the internet and that network bandwidth isn’t free.

It kind of reminds me of the gun situation in USia where a small group of players make money hand over fist, and everyone else pays a price, but not enough political will can be mustered to address this problem.

Ultimately I think creating an effective democracy is the biggest single priority, because with that, we could then start to address all these other problems that seem impossible in its absense.


#15

Damn - I do wish someone would work on this idea again, with newer tech it should be a high megapixel capability.


#16

it would be a crazy thing like bringing polaroid back


#17

Not so crazy, if you can take amazing pics with your old cameras. I love my Canon A1.


#18

The solution is known.

When someone steals your credit card and withdraws all your money from the bank, you aren’t held fiscally responsible, even though you were the one who ultimately had an ethical responsibility of keeping the physical card safely guarded. Why is that? You’re the one who left the card in the grocery or left the car unlocked with the card laying out or who gave the card to that obviously dodgy looking gas station attendant who had “I steal credit cards” tattooed on his neck. Why aren’t you held responsible?

The answer is simple. You don’t have the resources to fight credit card theft and fraud, but the banks do. The banks will chase the credit thief to the ends of the earth, and if the thief goes somewhere there is no rule of law, the banks will put out a bounty on his corpse. Because they can. You, on the other hand, probably can’t. So the government, in the interests of society, forces anyone who wants to issue credit cards to bear the majority of the costs of credit card theft. This works, despite the frequent sobbing and whinging about the unfairness of it all by obscenely rich bankers.

Similarly, the vast majority of computer users have no ability to secure their operating system and applications. But the big vendors do. If Microsoft were held fiscally responsible for breeches of security caused by their OS, they’d build the most secure system ever made, stronger even than OpenBSD. If you could withhold payment from your Internet service provider because you got spam, spammers would be an endangered species. Because Microsoft and Comcast have resources you don’t.

Unfortunately, today people are less concerned about what works than they are about ideological fairness. So they’ll cry “It’s not fair to hold Microsoft responsible for some criminals’ virus” or “there’s no way to adapt this system to allow open source and free software!” instead of working towards building incentives for killing off spam and virus sources. Big amoral corporations use this obsession with ideology (and a fistful of campaign contributions spread around to multiple parties) to prevent effective regulation that would cut into their bottom line.

And thus, you get spam and viruses.


#19

must say the breech lock was great lost innovasion


#20

Nationalize Comcast for all it’s crimes & turn it into USA’s BBC. Public Broadcasting Agency w/ broadband.