Episode 49

Parler, Ownership, and Open Source


November 20th, 2020

56 mins 54 secs

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About this Episode

Doc Searls, Katherine Druckman, Petros Koutoupis, and Kyle Rankin talk Parler and platform lock-in, the concept of data, software, and hardware ownership, and the open source social contract.

Show notes:
“I think the first one, maybe the that's that we could cover is, well, let's see, how do I put this without causing too much controversy? That's just the idea of siloed social, silos of any kind, but in particular social media and perceived censorship as it, as it applies to social media. That's a, that's a hot topic right now.”

(1m 59s):
“Do you not know about parlor? No. Oh, this is going to be a great episode!”

(3m 54s):
“And so, as a result, a lot of people who are concerned about censorship on Twitter and Facebook have moved over there. And, and in particular on the conservative side, just because like with any social network, there's a network effect.”

(5m 11s):
“It also reminds me of the early days of Google plus”

(8m 53s):
“I think we're moving from one moderator to, I mean, This happens on, on Mastodon quite a bit where you will have, because it's so federated and because all of the instances can in theory, talk to each other, sometimes you'll have a falling out because many Mastodon instances are more or less governed by the winds of a sysadmin who decided to spin it up.”

(10m 55s):
“It looks different to everybody. We all have our own, our own feeds are on, you know, our own preferences, our own, you know, whenever it is, I mean, it's, it's, it's shaped shifts for each of us, depending on what we've looked at and who we follow and all the rest of it. And it's by design. So there's no uniform vision to it.”

(11m 35s):
“I think you said it, Catherine did, a lot of people were sort of creeped out by Facebook, but it's only because of read a bunch of stuff about, Hey, you're not private there. And then the movie they watched that movie, you know...now they're scared of Facebook. They're not entirely sure why.”

(12m 34s):
“We don't need platforms for all this stuff. You can do this stuff without platforms.”

(15m 24s):
“So that's an interesting segue into one of the other topics that we've been talking about and that's, it's being owned by platforms instead of the other way around. And I think, you know, we all have in common that we are, we have a bit of a DIY and obviously open source mentality”

(18m 11s):
“Apple announced a new Big Sur release. And around the time that they announced the update that the update was available. So presumably people were downloading it, et cetera. People started noticing on their Macs that they were having trouble launching programs. They would try to launch an application. And sometimes it would take, you know, a minute after saying to launch before the application showed up on their local machine.”

(23m 15s):
“it really raises the issues of ownership. You know?”

(24m 42s):
“And it sounds like in many cases, you don't, if you have a Mac, you don't necessarily own that”

(24m 59s):
“I don't know if there are degrees of severity of one's lack of control over your digital products in your life.”

(28m 20s):
“And, you know, and I thought the chance that Google is going to get rid of those is pretty high Google's record of holding onto a service that people don't pay for is pretty lousy.”

(29m 40s):
“You have a bundle of rights. And, and I think that we haven't worked out yet online.”

(32m 29s):
“And this ephemeral service, which is now tied to a tangible thing, that tangible thing, which before would have different rules applied to it, like say a thermostat or whatever it is, where when the, the cloud service goes away, the company goes away.”

(33m 17s):
“For example, like this, this thing that happened this week that we already talked about with Apple, I think a lot of people didn't think about how applications launching was tethered to the cloud in any way”

(33m 48s):
“It's like the, the internet is a network of leashes and, like dog leashes with colors on them.”

(35m 48s):
“And I think it was 1890 and it was about the time they decided the right of privacy was the right to be let alone.”

(36m 52s):
“something that we've talked about many times, and that is open source, open source licensing, open source culture, open source awareness, even.”

(37m 50s):
“And people now start to question, they go, Hey, wait a second. This, this big platform is making a ton of money off of this code that I wrote, but I'm not.”

(39m 25s):
“And does it matter, does it matter what exactly we're talking about? Like, does it matter if I'm talking about contributing to something like Apache or, you know, Linux kernel, or does it matter if we're talking about some sort of web framework or library that, you know, a Facebook, a Twitter, a tic talk is using to make a lot of money, you know, that may, or even a product you just don't like, does it, does it somehow matter? I mean, obviously from a licensing perspective, it doesn't, but from an ideological perspective, does it matter?”

(41m 18s):
“And what does it even mean to contribute back to the project?”

(42m 18s):
“I think that's where the social contract starts to break down.”

(46m 10s):
“And that's supposed to be a good thing. What you want is to work with the companies that are using your software, and hopefully they will, they will release patches and fixes and improvements to your software. That's the idealized model.”

(48m 19s):
“open source licenses are pretty ubiquitous.”

(48m 33s):
“Well, you're writing code with an IDE that is probably free software. You didn't pay for it under an open-source license maybe on an OS that has similar licensing that you didn't have to work on using other people's libraries that you didn't have to write yourself from scratch all the way down to the OSTP.”

(49m 16s):
“Well, that's free software. And so the WordPress people knock on your door and like, Oh, well, and that's running on Linux. And so Linus is going to show up and what his handout, you know, it, everyone's sort of, for some reason, people think that, well, you're sitting on this entire body of work that people have put so much effort for free into to share with everyone else you're taking the benefit of that.”

(51m 13s):
I guess the ultimate question though, is at what point does, is there enough pushback that it does shift the open source community? ...at what point is it a significant enough disruption that there are enough people that are questioning the open source social contract?”

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Episode Links

  • Parler - Wikipedia — Parler is an American microblogging and social networking service launched in August 2018. Parler has a significant user base of Trump supporters, conservatives, and right-wing extremists. Posts on the service often contain far-right content, antisemitism, and conspiracy theories. Parler has been described as an alternative to Twitter, and is popular among people who have been banned from mainstream social networks or oppose their moderation policies.
  • davewiner.com
  • Scripting News — This is Scripting News. It's Dave Winer's blog.
  • Little Snitch - Makes the invisible visible!
  • Amazon.com: The Gift: How the Creative Spirit Transforms the World (9781984897787): Hyde, Lewis: Books — Drawing on examples from folklore and literature, history and tribal customs, economics and modern copyright law, Lewis Hyde demonstrates how our society—governed by the marketplace—is poorly equipped to determine the worth of artists’ work. He shows us that another way is possible: the alternative economy of the gift, which allows creations and ideas to circulate freely, rather than hoarding them as commodities.
  • Amazon.com: COMMON AS AIR (9780374532796): Hyde, Lewis: Books — Common as Air offers a stirring defense of our cultural commons, that vast store of art and ideas we have inherited from the past and continue to enrich in the present. Suspicious of the current idea that all creative work is "intellectual property," Lewis Hyde turns to America's Founding Fathers―men such as Adams, Madison, and Jefferson―in search of other ways to imagine the fruits of human wit and imagination. What he discovers is a rich tradition in which knowledge was assumed to be a commonwealth, not a private preserve.
  • macOS Big Sur launch appears to cause temporary slowdown in even non-Big Sur Macs | Ars Technica — When an Apple device can't connect to the network but you want to launch an app anyway, the notarization validation is supposed to "soft fail"—that is, your Apple device is supposed to recognize you're not online and allow the app to launch anyway. However, due to the nature of whatever happened today, calls to the server appeared to simply hang instead of soft-failing. This is possibly because everyone's device could still do a DNS lookup on ocsp.apple.com without any problems, leading the devices to believe that if they could do a DNS lookup, they should be able to connect to the OCSP service. So they tried—and timed out.
  • Apple Users Got Owned – Purism — You’ll often hear hackers say that they “owned” (or sometimes “pwned”) a computer. They don’t mean that they have the computer in their physical possession, what they mean is that they have compromised the computer and have such deep remote control that they can do whatever they want to it. When hackers own a computer they can prevent software from running, install whatever software they choose, and remotely control the hardware–even against the actual owner’s wishes and usually without their knowledge.

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