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    To all you off-topic flaggers: what exactly do you see as off-topic about this thorough, focused, and largely technical discussion that happens to address broader political issues in information technology? Or, is it just that anything that makes you uncomfortable can’t possibly be topical?

    Feel free to cowardly flag this comment with troll, if that’s how you roll. I’m conducting an experiment in speaking my mind that’s sure to get me banned here sooner or later. I’ve got all these karma points and nothing to spend them on.

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      I flagged it as off-topic because it’s business analysis.

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        Did you read it? I’ll charitably assume you did, at least cursorily.

        To me, the subject matter is only tangentially Business. As I say above, it’s mostly Tech Politics writ large, although I’d happily acknowledge the overlap. But that’s fine, we all have our perspectives. So what’s your criteria? Do you flag anything that has a whiff of Business about it? Or did you determine that this was primarily Business material, or what?

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          Anytime someone cites John Gruber, that’s a red flag. Further reading confirmed it. I’m singularly uninterested in the woes of developers on Apple’s mobile platform, and judging by the virulently anti-Apple sentiment in general on lobste.rs I can’t imagine I’m alone.

          In any case, my flag is my opinion. Obviously the mods haven’t removed the post, so they consider it on-topic.

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      This came up on the general computing thread: https://lobste.rs/s/x5yzqp/toward_technological_cage_for_masses

      I hadn’t encountered this term before; it’s useful. It’s hard to balance the freedom and openness of general purpose computing against the convenience and reliability of app consoles. We probably need both, but it’s important to know which one you’re dealing with.

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        I don’t think we need app consoles or walled gardens, we’ve just been bullied into accepting them. Now that they’re here, and so powerfully promoted, they seem inevitable and even natural – especially to those who’ve never known any better. It only worked because of the general public’s great ignorance of computing fundamentals during the last few decades’ massive expansion of information tech. To me, the real question is how we (and I mean humanity, not just Lobsters readers) can escape the lock-in induced by path dependence.

        Alan Kay and his Dynabook have plenty to say about the issues. I’ll link this 2017 Fast Company interview but there’s much more source material out there, for the curious.

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          I wasn’t familiar with Alan and the Dynabook - thanks for the link! I liked this quote:

          If people could understand what computing was about, the iPhone would not be a bad thing. But because people don’t understand what computing is about, they think they have it in the iPhone, and that illusion is as bad as the illusion that Guitar Hero is the same as a real guitar. That’s the simple long and the short of it.

          PS also interesting to see that Alan Kay is the source of “Simple things should be simple, complex things should be possible.”

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            That was him riffing on an Einstein apocryphum. If you’re reading this kind of material here but didn’t know about Alan Kay yet, today’s your lucky day!

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        There is a sleight-of-hand in many economic arguments, which I’ve also seen about patents, that because in some circumstance a source of profit makes some previously-impossible good thing happen, that source of profit is presumed always good for the world and should be preserved/maximized. Like, an expensive process to discover and trial a drug might not have happened without some form of patent protection, so 20-year software patents held by non-practicing entities are good too. (Even drug patents are often messed up, but another story.)

        I feel like that trick is being applied here. Some companies have hardware businesses that would clearly be unprofitable if they didn’t get something for software sold for it. Meanwhile, Apple has an independently enormously profitable hardware business with lots of power over the industry it’s in, and wants a cut of other folks’ software sales too. I’m not pretending it’s simple to figure out where the line ought to be (it’s not just arithmetic) but they are not trivially identical situations.

        And, as with patents, not as if the classic console model is without problems–pushes markets towards having few competitors, which puts the console makers in a position to squeeze the software companies and consumers through their cut of software sales. And I’m probably asking too little here, but I wish you could at least pay full freight for full control of your hardware; those next-gen consoles could be neat general-purpose machines!