The chickenization of everything
September 16, 2020 4:44 AM   Subscribe

How to Destroy Surveillance Capitalism (thread) - "Surveillance Capitalism is a real, serious, urgent problem... because it is both emblematic of monopolies (which lead to corruption, AKA conspiracies) and because the vast, nonconsensual dossiers it compiles on us can be used to compromise and neutralize opposition to the status quo."[1,2,3]
Big Tech DOES exert control over us, but not with mind-control rays. Lock-in (and laws that support it) allows Big Tech to decide how we can use our devices, who can fix them, and when they must be thrown away. Lock-in is an invitation to totalitarianism: the Chinese government observed the fact that Apple alone could decide which apps can run on Iphones, then ordered Apple to remove apps that allowed Chinese people privacy from the state. I'm sure that the Uyghurs in concentration camps and the Falun Gong members having their organs harvested are relieved that Apple abetted their surveillance for reasons other than mere marketing.

This is the core of my critique, the reason I wrote this book: we should be suspicious of all corporate control over our lives, and should insist on nothing less than absolute technological self-determination. The idea that "if you're not paying for the product, you're the product,"[4] suggests the simplistic solution of just charging for everything. But the reality is that in a monopoly, you're the product irrespective of whether you're paying.

We deserve to be more than products... Big Tech NEEDS a corrective, and that corrective - antimonopoly enforcement - is part of a global movement that addresses deep, systemic problems in every sector. This is a moment for us to seize, but we have to understand where the problem really lies.
@doctorow: "The copyright scholar James Boyle (@thepublicdomain) has a transformative way to think about political change. He tells a story about how the word 'ecology' welded together a bunch of disparate issues into a movement."
Prior to 'ecology', there were people who cared about owls, or air pollution, or acid rain, or whales, and while none of these people thought the others were misguided, they also didn't see them as being as part of the same cause. Whales aren't anything like owls and acid rain isn't anything like ozone depletion. But the rise of the term 'ecology', turned issues into a movement. Instead of being 1,000 causes, it was a single movement with 1,000 on-ramps.

...maybe the market concentration you care about it in healthcare, cable, finance, pharma, ed-tech, publishing, film, music, news, oil, mining, aviation, hotels, automotive, rail, ag-tech, biotech, lumber, telcoms, or a hundred other sectors. That is, maybe you just figured out that the people who care about owls are on the same side as the people who care about the ozone layer.

All our markets have become hourglass shaped, with monop(olists/sonists) sitting at the pinch-point, collecting rents from both sides, and they've run out of peons to shake down, so they're turning on each other. They won't go gently. Every Big Tech company is convinced that they have the right to be the pinchpoint in the hour-glass, and is absolutely, 100% certain that they don't want to be trapped in the bulbs on either side of the pinch. They know how miserable life is for people in the bulbs, because they are the beneficiaries of other peoples' misery. Misery is for other people. But they're in a trap. Monopolies and monopsonies are obviously unjust, and the more they point out the injustices they are EXPERIENCING, the greater the likelihood that we'll start paying attention to the injustices they are INFLICTING...

The monopolized world is all around us. That's the bad news. The good news is that means that everyone who lives in the bulbs - everyone except the tiny minority who operate the pinch - is on the same side. There are 1,000 reasons to hate monopolies, which means that there are 1,000 on-ramps to a movement aimed at destroying them. A movement for pluralism, fairness and solidarity, rather than extraction and oligarchy.
Cognitive hacking as the new disinformation frontier - "Persuasion doesn't need to influence the majority of the public to be effective. It's enough to convince just one per cent of a population to destabilise a democracy pretty effectively with protests, rioting and a collapse in institutional trust. So the question that really needs asking is: how hard is it to radicalise one per cent of the public with modern, weaponised forms of persuasion? The answer, experts say, is dangerously easy... What we know is that the potential gain for a foreign adversary to purposefully radicalise elements of any social movement is potentially incalculable. The risk on their end, meanwhile, is trivial not least because every facet of the technology already exists."

You explain Oracle to a teenager like this - "As you know people, as you learn about things, you realize that these generalizations we have are, virtually to a generalization, false. Well, except for this one, as it turns out. What you think of Oracle, is even truer than you think it is. There has been no entity in human history with less complexity or nuance to it than Oracle. And I gotta say, as someone who has seen that complexity for my entire life, it's very hard to get used to that idea. It's like, 'surely this is more complicated!' but it's like: Wow, this is really simple! This company is very straightforward, in its defense. This company is about one man, his alter-ego, and what he wants to inflict upon humanity -- that's it! ...Ship mediocrity, inflict misery, lie our asses off, screw our customers, and make a whole shitload of money. Yeah... you talk to Oracle, it's like, 'no, we don't fucking make dreams happen -- we make money!' ...You need to think of Larry Ellison the way you think of a lawnmower. You don't anthropomorphize your lawnmower, the lawnmower just mows the lawn, you stick your hand in there and it'll chop it off, the end. You don't think 'oh, the lawnmower hates me' -- lawnmower doesn't give a shit about you, lawnmower can't hate you. Don't anthropomorphize the lawnmower. Don't fall into that trap about Oracle."

To make capitalism more attractive, policymakers must emphasize pro-market (not pro-business) policies - "French-born NYU economist Thomas Philippon offers a timely diagnosis of what fundamentally ails the American economy."
Philippon, using solid empirical evidence and careful research, asserts that the level of competition has declined in the U.S. (as exemplified by the rise in market concentration in several industries, the extent to which sectoral leaders have become entrenched and the high level of profits attained by the dominant firms).

Furthermore, the rise in market concentration over the first two decades of the 20th century has led to market inefficiencies. The resultant increase in barriers to entry has reduced business investment, raised consumer prices and lowered productivity growth. While technology, economies of scale and globalization have played a part, it is increasingly clear that political factors (corporate lobbying, weak antitrust enforcement and campaign contributions) have had a decisive influence in bringing about this new era of limited competition.

Though some are relatively sanguine about the recent dominance of big business and the associated decline in competition, there is growing concern that market concentration poses a threat to the long-term stability and health of the American economy. First, the relative decline in labor share of income observed in recent decades is to some extent driven by the rise of superstar firms. Second, changing norms, policy changes, automation, globalization and employer concentration have reduced the bargaining power of workers. Recent research suggests that the weakening of worker power may be a key factor behind the decline in labor share of income. Third, and most importantly, declining business dynamism and insufficient creative destruction pose a serious risk to the U.S., whose economy is especially dependent on innovation and technological progress to sustain future economic growth.
Low Interest Rates Don't Drive Market Concentration - "A critical assessment of Atif Mian, Amir Sufi and Ernest Liu's paper."

If 60/40 Keeps Working, Democracy Has Failed, Paul McCulley Says - "...former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker's aggressive tightening, the Reagan-era supply-side revolution, Alan Greenspan's monetary dominance and Ben Bernanke's inflation targeting all succeeded wildly at depressing inflation to the benefit of financial assets."
“If it were to work on a secular basis for five years, 10 years, 20 years, then we have unambiguously failed as a democracy,” he said. “The reason financial markets have done well over the last 40 years is because we’ve been in a 40-year disinflationary environment.”

This is the result of a political victory by those who control capital over those who provide labor, he says. “Unambiguously, we’ve had 40 years of disinflation, and that’s because we’ve shifted power in our economy, both domestically and globally, from labor to capital.”

“We’ve had a 40-year tailwind of falling real interest rates, which will by definition increase the market value of all income streams,” he said. “That’s what capitalism is all about: Ownership claims on income streams. It’s been an incredible bull run on the valuation of financial assets. And I certainly hope, as a citizen, that is not repeated.”

While McCulley is no longer managing money professionally, he has a wish for the investment industry: “I really hope that my old profession figures out a new paradigm,” he said. “What’s worked the last 40 years should not work unless you want democracy to fail.”
The Post-Capitalist Hit of the Summer - "From 1933 to 1971, global capitalism was centrally planned under different iterations of the New Deal governance framework, including the war economy and the Bretton Woods system. As that framework was swept away in the mid-1970s, the Technostructure, cloaked in neoliberalism, recovered its powers."
The current crisis has revealed a post-capitalist economy in which the markets for real goods and services no longer coordinate economic decision-making, the current Technostructure (comprising Big Tech and Wall Street) manipulates behavior at an industrial scale, and the demos is ostracized from our democracies.
  • @dpp: "There are 3 taxing entities... government, Wall St., and Big Tech... sadly the first is now owned by the other two... and 'small government' folks are focusing populist ire on the wrong taxing entity..."
  • @ObligationValue: "The biggest blind spot of the Democratic Party. Even amongst the anti-monopoly segment of the party, most Democrats don't seem to understand the significance of the monopoly problem."[7]
  • @Econ_Marshall: "What are we to make of the fact that good criticisms of Big Tech have been provided a bad outlet by the Republican Party for its own political purposes and shunned and stonewalled by the Democratic Party to cynically protect a major source of their donor money?"
  • @existentialcoms: "It's always 'run the government like a business' until huge corporations need a bailout, and then the government is suddenly happy to give them the cash without doing what every business does in that scenario: takes over ownership of the bankrupt company. If the government were run like a business the public would have huge stakes in Tesla, GM, the airlines, the banks and countless other companies, and the public would get a vote in how they are run."[8,9,10,11]
  • @santisiri: "'you can't govern with pure coercion... you must create ficticious forces' –paul valéry, french poet."[12]
  • @interfluidity: "if work provides dignity, self regard and esteem within a community, then it is not necessary to rely on desperation and the threat of destitution to coerce it."[13]
  • @davidcrespo: "there's something really interesting about the idea that work in the abstract, any work, confers dignity regardless from the character of the work activity or one's input into decision-making. some guy with a beard called it abstract labor"[14]
To rebuild the economy, America needs a new social contract - "Too many women and people of color are not adequately compensated for their work. And too many hard-working people in critically important sectors are barely surviving at the economic margins."

SF announces pilot program to provide basic income to pregnant Black and Pacific Islander women - "Mayor London Breed announced today the launch of a new pilot program that will provide a basic income to Black and Pacific Islander women during pregnancy and after giving birth. The 150 women chosen will receive a monthly income supplement of $1,000 for the duration of their pregnancy and for the first six months of their baby's life, with the goal of eventually providing a supplement for up to two years post-pregnancy."

How Zeynep Tufekci Keeps Getting the Big Things Right - "Dr. Tufekci, a computer programmer who became a sociologist, sounded an early alarm on the need for protective masks. It wasn't the first time she was right about something big." (In Memory of my Grandmother: "Educate Your Girls, Cherish Your Good Memories")[15,16]
“The real question is not whether Zuck is doing what I like or not,” she said. “The real question is why he’s getting to decide what hate speech is.”

She also suggested that we may get it wrong when we focus on individuals — on chief executives, on social media activists like her. The probable answer to a media environment that amplifies false reports and hate speech, she believes, is the return of functional governments, along with the birth of a new framework, however imperfect, that will hold the digital platforms responsible for what they host.
The Conscience of Silicon Valley - "Tech oracle Jaron Lanier warned us all about the evils of social media. Too few of us listened. Now, in the most chaotic of moments, his fears—and his bighearted solutions—are more urgent than ever."
Perverse incentives are what Lanier has spent his life railing against—the way that tech is co-opted and digital spaces colonized for the profit of people (or, perhaps eventually, robots) who do not care about your happiness.

“So,” he said, sighing. “My project is in a way more modest than you're making it out to be. It's more... it's more to not fuck the future over, you know?”
The Master and the Prodigy - "There is little doubt that John Maynard Keynes fundamentally shaped economics and policymaking in the twentieth century. Less appreciated is that he owes some of his central insights to a brilliant Cambridge polymath who died in 1930 at age 26."
For his part, Ramsey allowed that absolute truth could be achievable within a very small class of specific propositions. The problem, as he saw it, was that this narrow set excluded the vast bulk of our beliefs. Standing in direct opposition to his contemporaries, his was a quest not for “truth” but for beliefs that would work for human beings.[17]

Ramsey’s lasting influence was not independent of the context – Cambridge in the 1920s – in which he lived and worked. His father was a mathematician and a senior fellow of Magdalene College; his mother was an influential figure in Cambridge political life, both before and after the split-level success of the campaign for women’s suffrage in 1918 and 1928. In this setting, an evidently brilliant young scholar had potentially direct access to the likes of Keynes, Russell, and Wittgenstein. The doors to their studies were there, waiting to be opened. And when Ramsey walked through them, the history of twentieth-century thought was fundamentally changed...

Ramsey wanted to determine how much of its income a country should “save in order to maximize utility over generations.” The conventional economic view is that the present value of future benefits and costs should be discounted to account for uncertainty about their realization, lack of sympathy with unborn others, and the intrinsic salience of immediate consumption. Ramsey accepted that this might well be the case for an individual, but not for a society. That is to say, he rejected the idea that we should value current wellbeing over that of future generations...

Ramsey recognized the central question of just what – that is to say, whose – utility is supposed to be maximized, even if his formal papers abstracted from it. Minutes from the Cambridge Quintics Society, to which he presented a paper (now lost) on “mathematical economics” in 1927, record Ramsey as asserting that, “in arguing about the welfare of the community as a whole,” we have to assume either that utility is the same for everyone or that averaging utilities provides a fair representation. But, he hastened to add, “this is quite unfair except when all the people are quite well off. … For the rich man, it makes little difference how the last sixpence in his pocket is spent.”
Radical Markets: Uprooting Capitalism and Democracy for a Just Society - "We spoke to Glen Weyl, one of the authors of Radical Markets, about the book, how his thinking has evolved, and what's happened to their ideas in the real world since the book was published in May, 2018."[18,19,20,21]
In Colorado we’ve done several things. First, the state legislature used quadratic voting to allocate its discretionary budget last year. And this year it moved into the executive branch, so the executive is now using quadratic voting to resolve disputes among different parts of the executive about how to allocate their resources. We have also been working locally in Colorado to disperse economic aid money using something called quadratic funding, which is related to quadratic voting, but developed after the book came out.

We’re also starting to work with them on using what was called in the book COST [Common Ownership Self-Assessed Taxes] what we’re now calling Self-Assessed Licenses Sold at Auction, or SALSAs to give out marijuana licences. Anyway, we’ve got a variety of engagements there.

In Taiwan, we’ve come to work extremely closely with Audrey Tang, their digital minister who’s just a remarkable person and, honestly, a much more interesting subject than me. She has been using quadratic voting for administering national hackathons—where people get together and try to create technological solutions to social problems.

Audrey has used quadratic voting to score those competitions and she’s also used another idea that we’re very into, called ‘data coalitions’ or ‘data cooperatives’—they’re sort of data labour unions—to organize those services. Taiwan’s response to Covid was, to a large extent, driven by these civic technology developments and they were the most successful country in the world. They had the lowest infection and death rate and the smallest impact on their economy. A lot of that was related to their harnessing of these civic technology approaches...

Fundamentally, I think that the book tries to take really seriously and take further some of the ideas that have grown out of economic theory, related to questions of public goods, and collective value. But the problem is that economics, at a fundamental level... is really premised on ignoring collective value. That’s really central to the whole structure of economics. So, the mechanisms that come out illuminate what’s missing from the standard framework... once you take public goods really seriously, you have to recognize that public goods account for most value and, as a result, the actual nature of conflicts that arise between people is not about reconciling all self-interest with the public good, but rather about reconciling the pluralistic interests of different groups of people, which end up constituting individual interests in a partially overlapping way, with other people who have different sets of interests. The mechanisms in the book don’t do that. I think they’re a very important and concrete and powerful step beyond capitalism and the nation-state and that silly dichotomy, but they’re really just a start in a process of trying to move towards social systems that are truer to the richness of our shared lives...

Increasingly, my view is that the fundamental problem is that most value is collective. And I don’t mean globally collective in a vague way—that it’s all contained in the whole world. I mean that there are lots of groups where it’s actually the group, not the individual involved, that creates the value and that most of the problems of inequality are not fundamentally problems about some sort of economic inequality, but problems of treating that collective value as being the private property of some individual, which it’s not. What that ends up creating I don’t think of, even primarily, as economic inequality because money itself, the whole basis of talking about and measuring income, is fundamentally missing a lot of what’s going on, which is that people have to have more equal voices in, and more collective governance of, the collective value that they create.
also btw...
Analogia, by George Dyson — merging with the machines - "How computing's fourth age will call time on human mastery of technology."
Humans are not going to be subsumed into battery farms for the sake of powering the machines. An analogue revival will see machines tap into the processing power of distributed human brains. Our imaginations will begin to serve them. At the same time, the distinction between artificial and human intelligence will begin to blur. We, along with the machines, may become constituents of a higher collective intelligence or whole. This all seems more like a nod to the esoteric meaning of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and its suggestion of the birth of a new type of intelligence, than a dystopian endpoint.
The Inheritors and The Grisly Folk: H.G. Wells and William Golding on Neanderthals - "William Golding was inspired by Wells to write The Inheritors (his second book, after Lord of the Flies), which is rendered mostly (until the end, at which point the perspective is reversed) from the Neanderthal point of view. Both Wells and Golding assume that Neanderthals were not as cognitively capable as modern humans, but Golding's primitives are peaceful quasi-vegetarians, quite unlike the Grisly Folk of Wells... We are approaching the day when modern humans will encounter a new and quasi-alien intelligence: it may be AI, or it may be genetically enhanced versions of ourselves."
posted by kliuless (18 comments total) 121 users marked this as a favorite
Favoriting for later, but wow, is this ever a megapost for me. Thanks for compiling this!
posted by bfranklin at 4:49 AM on September 16, 2020 [2 favorites]

There was a post a couple weeks back on that Jaron Lanier GQ article and I'll repeat what I posted there (before the FPP was deleted at the original poster's request).

This Twitter thread by Heather Gold makes a good argument that Jaron Lanier shouldn't be described as the "conscience of" or "last moral man in Silicon Valley".
posted by Strutter Cane - United Planets Stilt Patrol at 5:24 AM on September 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

This is a great set of links to dig into.

Meanwhile, on the first one up pops this:

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posted by chavenet at 6:52 AM on September 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

Wow, amazing post! Going to make a determined effort to read it all over the next days.

The uncharitable part of me wonders if the large coterie of Mefites who hate Cory Doctorow will even bother to read any of the links, or just jump straight to bashing Canada's Caped Curmudgeon, as they usually do. ;)
posted by seasparrow at 7:00 AM on September 16, 2020 [3 favorites]

Links lower down are far more valuable in describing the current state of affairs as they stand on the multicoloured internet outside the geographic jurisdiction of the tech's owners. Zeynep is right - entirely new prototypes for hybrid governance are required in our multi-platform 'world' systems.
posted by infini at 7:27 AM on September 16, 2020

I don't get the Oracle one. Of the tech companies I regularly work with, Oracle is mostly fine, and their standard database product is good enough to handle our transaction loads (which are enormous), which allows us to migrate away from the enterprise editions (which we used to have to use due to the size of systems, including Sun unix systems pre their merger with Oracle. I assume the guy liked working for Sun (which I understand) but I didn't like buying products from them, pre or post-merger.
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:27 AM on September 16, 2020

There was a post a couple weeks back on that Jaron Lanier GQ article and I'll repeat what I posted there

And I'll post what I didn't get to post there in response, because the FPP got deleted seconds before: while the article writer got carried away with his superlatives, as journalists usually do, that thread seems like pretty weak outrage tea.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 8:40 AM on September 16, 2020 [2 favorites]

Ok, I obviously haven't read the entire Doctorow book, nor do I plan to. However, I did go through it hoping to find the "how" part, because a lot of writers purport to prescribe when really they only describe and maybe vaguely handwave some "solutions" towards the end. This book doesn't seem to stray too far from that, but his main prescription is "break up monopolies and prevent them from reforming," which...ok? Did you really need to write a whole book to say that? People have been saying that for a very long time, and it's not really resulted in anything as far as I can tell. Doing that requires a government in place that actively looks after the interests of all of its citizens and doesn't cater to the whims of its elite citizens, and as far as I can tell we've never really had that in the history of the world, and we're rapidly receding from the closest we've ever come to it. So, I mean, thanks I guess, Cory, but other than giving you something to do I don't see what this book is going to accomplish.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 8:50 AM on September 16, 2020 [6 favorites]

Cory's competent like Nickelback is competent; he reliably keeps turning out the same product with new paint schemes because his audience keeps buying it. It's a decent living and I don't blame him for it. You know what you're going to get, as you say, before you scroll down.
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:57 AM on September 16, 2020 [3 favorites]

What we know is that the potential gain for a foreign adversary to purposefully radicalise elements of any social movement is potentially incalculable. The risk on their end, meanwhile, is trivial not least because every facet of the technology already exists....

I've been thinking about this a bit lately, and I have to disagree. The risk from destabilizing parts of another society in another part of the world is indirect, but by no means trivial. First of all, there's the risk of destabilizing forces taking on a life of their own, for example, QAnon has already become an international problem and there's no reason for folks running Russian bot-farms to think that their fellow Russians are immune to that kind of nonsense. Weaponizing ideas and conspiracy theories seems a bit like weaponizing diseases - it's hubris to think you can control exactly who gets infected.

The second part is, well...destabilization is sort of like a big game of chicken. You want to destabilize the US (or whoever) exactly enough so that they can't/won't stop your nation from pursuing its own agenda....but not so much that you set off WW3. That's a tricky needle to thread, as it turns out. While bad actors may be patting themselves on the back for bringing the US to a point where it's maybe one sharp shove away from civil war...that one push could come from anywhere, or just random chance, and given the forces arrayed on both sides and the potential global impact, there's no chance of a US civil war that doesn't turn into a world war pretty rapidly, and nobody on Earth wins in that scenario. I wonder if the troll farms have a second mode planned, a genuinely pro-US, unity-building mode to switch to if the US gets too close to war? Somehow I doubt it...but at the same time, it seems foolish and strategically unsound to keep on pushing destabilization past a certain point.

In the long run, I do wonder what the future of nation-state governments is (and should be) in a world where because of technology, any random person can both influence an election anywhere else in the world and also be affected by the outcome of an election anywhere else in the world. But in the short(er) term, destabilizing other countries seems extremely likely to end up biting the destabilizers in the ass, small consolation though that may be to folks surveying the smoking wreckage of their once-stable democracies.
posted by mstokes650 at 9:54 AM on September 16, 2020 [2 favorites]

Read Cedric Robinson, George Jackson, Che Guevara, Rosa Luxemburg, Lenin. Maybe especially Jackson in the US. Act accordingly.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 10:09 AM on September 16, 2020 [2 favorites]

It seems to me, she said in a pontificating sort of voice, that its time the use of social media platforms was curbed for politicians and political campaigning all together.

Its either that or death to Facebook.
posted by infini at 11:21 AM on September 16, 2020

I refuse to allow Trumpian discrimination and waves of toxic hostility to ruin my personal internet experience. WTF.
posted by infini at 11:22 AM on September 16, 2020

I think it is pretty telling that in a huge moment of collective need the Tech Industry feigned complete helplessness and fled to hide behind the governments and their lawyers' legs like they were the bad corporate reps in yet another Alien movie sequel.

We could have had extremely effective contact tracing almost immediately. America is probably the most intensively tracked population in the world. Your whereabouts are almost always known by just a few massive corporations. They could have, just for a brief moment, turned this evil into a tremendous public good.......but they did not. Instead Google increased its ad plays on Youtube to a higher per minute frequency than broadcast TV. Pandora starting really using location tracking to push me to go to my local Walmart after they reopened post BLM-protests (there were no damaging protests in my neighborhood but Walmart closed all the stores in Chicago regardless of the area). So the surveillance was and is still there and still operating and the data available in near real-time if not realtime. They could have saved a lot of lives. Superspreader events could have been broken up while in progress. Transmission chains could have been cut. We could know whether outdoor activity is safe or not (we still have a near complete absence of data on this despite what everyone says and thinks - nobody is effectively contact tracing chance outdoor interactions). We could know what the actual risk of infection is per behavior, per location, per time, per name it we could work it out. The data available is incredibly granular. None of this happened though. We chose instead to hire contractors to operate phone banks and ask people their recollections of who they interacted with in the week prior to their testing positive.

It's like going into WWII and thinking cars, planes and boats are only for domestic and international transportation or commercial and refusing to build fighter planes, jeeps, tanks or a navy.

I suspect a big part of why it didn't happen is because our legislators want to continue pretend that surveillance capitalism is not happening. Using it, for good during a life threatening pandemic, would have resulted in everyone understanding its terrifying power instead of just a few.
posted by srboisvert at 12:53 PM on September 16, 2020 [5 favorites]

Wow. Thanks for the gold here. Into Week 2 of a senior English course on surveillance & privacy -- just discussed this Human Rights Watch article about COVID & mobile location data today in-between discussions of The Circle & Enemy of the State -- & I already can see that this megathread is going to be extremely helpful. Thank you 3000.
posted by foodbedgospel at 1:02 PM on September 16, 2020

large coterie of Mefites who hate Cory Doctorow

I think in general it's more a vague ambivalence to what BoingBoing came to both embrace and represent?
posted by aspersioncast at 4:10 PM on September 16, 2020 [3 favorites]

I don't get the Oracle one. Of the tech companies I regularly work with, Oracle is mostly fine, and their standard database product is good enough to handle our transaction loads (which are enormous), which allows us to migrate away from the enterprise editions

As a software developer, from my POV Oracle sells people software that is no better than the free open source relational databases at truly staggering prices. I get that the support is part of the deal, but as a company all they seem to offer is vendor lock-in, combined with truly patent trolly defense of their ownership of the Java language. It may be that their standard product is a better fit for your needs than other enterprise solutions, but in general their model seems to be based around getting large companies used to paying their bills and make moving off of their platform for a cheaper/free product too much of a hassle to consider.
posted by lhputtgrass at 10:06 AM on September 18, 2020 [1 favorite]

Kluless you may be interested in Jeff Ruben's ( Canadian economist) book The Expendables, you can read a section here at Amazon
posted by Narrative_Historian at 7:14 PM on September 18, 2020

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