Monday, May 23, 2016

"You Don’t Actually Own Your Data and Devices"

From IEEE Spectrum:

Companies go to great lengths to lock us out from our own stuff
One of the contradictions of our age is that while the Internet increasingly makes all kinds of information available, many devices and services are increasingly including less accessibility as a feature. For every Wikipedia that you can edit, there are a thousand devices and appliances that are manufactured to discourage tampering. We like to think the world is becoming an open access and open content nirvana with information available to all, but the reality is that more and more knowledge is hiding behind paywalls and similar closed access barriers (and even super closed access channels, which make info available only through limited or hidden outlets). 
We live in a renter society where we prefer to pay a monthly fee to use something for a short while and then move on when a new version comes along. Even the stuff we think we own is really not ours, the best example being all those ostensibly purchased e-books that it turns out you actually only rent and that can be undownloaded (that is, yanked from your e-reader) without warning. If this sounds fanciful, note that a few years back Amazon famously deleted George Orwell’s books from customers’ Kindles due to a digital rights management kerfuffle. 
Even the things we do own don’t last very long because we also live in throwaway society. When something breaks, we’d rather toss it in the trash than get it fixed. The philosopher Albert Borgmann calls this disposable reality, one of the characteristics of which is the emphasis on consumption of things rather than engagement with things....MORE