the whole concept of "app" as thought of today is a consequence of free software having been completely obliterated as a cultural concept

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instagram is a service which, due to what we in the industry call "complete bullshit", requires an application also called "instagram" to use it

but every single thing is like that so we just say "instagram is an app" and i can't stand it

even with completely nonstandard interfaces free software is necessary, if not sufficient, for fixing this

you could have many competing android photo sharing apps implementing many APIs each. real user choice

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free software doesn't fix those apps being bad - we need other things for that - but it at least makes it possible for them to have other motives than "extract money from users' wallets"

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the uh. slightly less wholesome conclusion here is that we irretrievably lost some time around 2012 and what we have now is just the scraps the corps are okay with throwing to us

and the FSF and GNU are basically just a distraction. the stallman thing doesn't matter, none of it matters, because we'll never have meaningfully free computing in the hands of the many

anyway i'm talking myself into [redacted] so i'm going to go to sleep before i [redacted] lol

@tindall idk about that. i think that right now, we don't have meaningfully free computing in the hands of the many because we don't really have meaningful computing at all in the hands of everyone.

personal computers are one of those things, i think, that's going to be a battleground of technical development for a long time yet to come just because of the range of things they enable.

and, well, i think peer-to-peer networking is going to be the next big thing. we just haven't gotten to mass adoption yet, but i'm eyeing blockchain as one of the things that will get the idea enough popular acceptance to really spark the general imagination. there is quite a lot there that could be repurposed.

@KitRedgrave you had my attention until the "b" word

we'd be incredibly lucky if 5 years from now (assuming we haven't obliterated the planet's oxygen supply by then) it didn't cause everyone to view all tech decentralization with the same disdain now reserved for freemen-on-the-land

@tindall

@carcinopithecus blockchain is not just only bitcoin, nor is it only just tech bros trying to make sick gains in the global north.

the thing that makes bitcoin wasteful, the proof of work trust model along with ever-increasing difficulty, is not an inherent part of any blockchain system. the idea of it being necessarily even about a coin at all is not an inherent part of it either, although it has been a huge driver of use because it's convenient to fund development of other things related.

the way i look at it is as a peer-to-peer distributed data structure, with some cryptographic trust model to verify the integrity of what everyone collectively is storing. there is quite a lot of room to creatively define those terms and the uses of those components.

@KitRedgrave fair enough, i do remember reading that when this stuff first started being A Thing

but i've yet to see any other use for blockchain that wasn't first and foremost someone looking for a use for blockchain rather than anything it clearly did better than the existing alternative

for data verification i literally cannot imagine a situation where a central arbitrator (+ succession plan if that arbitrator is compromised) would not be more efficient overrall

@KitRedgrave practically, the only situations i can imagine where there's so little trust among 3+ parties that they can't ever agree on any third party to arbitrate mere data verification (not any actual decision, just making sure everyone's copy of the data is the same), those parties aren't exactly inclined to share anything in good faith with any of the others

@carcinopithecus you would be surprised how many decentralized autonomous organizations there are on these platforms, that have proposals and verified votes.

low trust on the infrastructure level and multiple verifications enables you to trust that anything that stands up to that scrutiny is legit, because it would be increasingly harder to cheat.

@KitRedgrave no exaggeration: the notion of a group of equals voting on something tjey had to work together on had completely slipped my mind

been spending way too much time in an environment where every decision is finally decided by either deference to authority or threat of reprisal

@carcinopithecus yeah, that is the thing about blockchain that's really cool. you can encode things like votes, and they're permanent, and if there are things on the blockchain that are tied to that proposal, then the transaction specified in that proposal happens without anyone having to follow up.

@KitRedgrave idk I mean even a feature phone has enough computing power and connectivity to do really cool shit if it weren't ultra locked down

@KitRedgrave and yeah as someone who was heavily into blockchain around the first big Bitcoin boom I'm. Deeply skeptical of it tbh

@tindall i was skeptical too tbh (but i hadn't gotten to it that early), but i have been giving another look at what's out there, and it seems to me that the rampant scams have more or less subsided by now and what is here is stuff that's actually of some use.

it's still pretty early days though.

@tindall yeah perhaps but like...

the thing i wonder about is how our idea of cool shit lines up with most people's. we're a lot more extremely online than most, and i think that unfree computing couldn't have taken off as well as it has if it didn't serve people's needs.

there's a lot of free software to do stuff locally, but it's been historically pretty difficult to sustain platforms to do stuff on a network that has an effect offline.

@KitRedgrave yeah I mean that's the thing right. It does serve people's needs, exactly well enough to get them to buy it over and over but no better

Like a modern family sedan, or a hot dog, or whatever

@tindall hmm, firefox and chrome started the "release number MUST GO UP FOREVER" thing around then too

@tindall I think inherent problem of free software that by itself you can't monetize it, and what facebook did is to create a 'walled garden' and sell ads in, there's also a bunch of marketing to put instagram in the minds of users.

Anyway, I've come to conclusion that free software will not became popular by itself due to systemic societal issues beyond the scope of software itself. I'm not saying that free software is bad, but we may need look from the other end of the problem.

@avolkov @tindall I fear one of the reasons for the rise of the surveillance capitalism and "ad tech" is that a lot of end users are simply unable to pay in the current economic conditions—their personal data is their only remaining asset they can trade for online services.

@dmbaturin @tindall Partly that, partly this is how the first money was made on the internet and now everyone does that.

Reply All had a good episode on how advertising on the internet got started -- gimletmedia.com/shows/reply-al

@avolkov yeah, I mean, it's definitely the case that these systems are bound up with capitalism in a very intense way. I think, as I said above, some time around 2012-2013 that entanglement may have become irreversable. I hope not, though.

@avolkov @tindall We tout "user's choice" like it was the greatest thing ever, but the fact of the matter is, most users simply don't care. Most users are already fed up that some of their friends use Messenger while others user Viber and some outlier acquitances are on Skype. Most users seem to be incredibly happy if even these 3 choices would be restricted to just one, finally everyone could be chatted with.

@tindall oooooooof.

I've been thinking things went downhill since 2012, but i was concentrating too much on the surveillance / ad industry, and often forgot about the collateral damage it has caused

even to FLOSS, much of which is now corporate and has shrunk in quality on many sides, documentation, for instance

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