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    What can we do?

    We, as users, as creators, and as people, have an obligation to help fight back against this. We can:

    • Make user friendly (not user hostile) devices and software
    • Write documentation
    • Refuse to buy tech that we can render safe to use, but that the average user can’t

    This is huge. I was the first smartphone owner in my peer group. I showed it off to maybe 150 people. How many of those people bought a smart phone and showed theirs off, too? How many Crustaceans were in the same position? Let’s call that position ‘gadget leaders’… :)

    This was back when apps were stuff like spirit levels and compasses… and of course a browser, which I thought meant that it was an open platform, oh man, I don’t even want to talk about it. Forgive me!

    • Support financially the people and organizations that produce user friendly hardware and software whenever possible.
    • Write to our congresscritters about the DMCA (a law that is wielded by the likes of Lexmark and John Deere and Microsoft to keep their devices user hostile by rendering it illegal to install your own software.)

    Might there be any benefit to writing the corporations instead? (Or boycotting them, or whatever your preferred method of communication is.) It has been demonstrated a lot frequently that the corporations are in communication with the lawmakers.

    I managed to get a state senator’s ear for a few minutes some months back. I told him that I wanted him to support our local right to repair bill. He said he’d heard of it, he said “that’s the one that’s Apple vs …” and he let me fill in the blank. Today, I think he was saying “it doesn’t matter who they are vs, Apple is going to win that, kid.” They did. (Apple was there to support John Deere.)

    So, can we make Apple or Google or even Lenovo or John Deere fight for something that is good for us?

    • Normalize the idea that reading documentation is sometimes required, and in the process, help folks bridge the gap in computer literacy.
    • Encourage tinkering and customization by documenting all the ways that it is possible.
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      This is a macro problem, too. Technical progress is hard. User-friendliness is hard. It takes research, and it also takes care, and both of those are thin on the ground.

      We experienced unprecedented growth, almost in spite of ourselves, in the Cold War era. Now, there’s little that’s good about war. Unfortunately, during peace and prosperity, people have a way of becoming stagnant– see our lack of leadership on climate change, for example. When things are good for too long, people tend to take it for granted. During the ’50s and ‘60s, when we were scared shitless of nuclear weapons, the economy grew at 5–6 percent per year. Now, it’s 1–2 percent. Why? Because people would rather have small tax cuts (never mind the huge ones given to the rich) than fund a country willing to pay the costs to actually lead.

      Though much innovation comes from the private sector– see: Bell Labs and Xerox Parc– the fact is that it ends pretty quickly without a national government holding up the labor market for the top people. In the ’50s and ‘60s, companies had to be doing real technical work to get smart people. These days, it’s an employer-friendly market, and as a result, innovation is nonexistent, and so is care for the user of the product.

      That’s why everything sucks (technology-wise, “everything sucks” is an exaggeration) and it’s not getting better. Of course, this is a slight exaggeration; software is getting better in spite of our macro failures– just not fast enough.