Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Owning your computer

The real test of whether your computer belongs to you is whether it can be programmed by you (or someone like me). You only own the computer if it will do what you tell it (within the limits of its capabilities, of course). If it does what you ask and refuses to do what anyone else asks, then you are the owner. If it occasionally obeys the commands of someone else, such as forcing updates you don't want, sending spam as part of a botnet or removing content you've purchased, such as Kindle books, then you are not 100% the owner because you are not 100% in control of the machine.

If we move (as we seem to be doing) to a model where every computer is only a network connection and a web browser, then you don't own your machine at all, because it won't run software, only websites, and that's not your software at all. Yes, you could tell it to go to a different website, or set up your own server to do what you want, but that's a whole different machine. The desktop is still only obeying the whims of the website, and you have become a consumer rather than an owner. You're a rental resident, not the landlord. And that is a problem, whether you believe it today or not.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - This trend has been going on a long time.
PPS - It will probably continue as long as there are more computer users than programmers.

No comments: