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A Quick Plug
Doc Searls and Katherine Druckman spoke to regular guests Kyle Rankin and Petros Koutoupis about Parler and platform lock-in, the concept of data, software, and hardware ownership, and the open source social contract. Please remember to subscribe via the podcast player of your choice.
Parler, Ownership, and Open Source
This week’s conversation was rooted in the concept of ownership, including hardware, software, and in the case of platform lock-in, even ownership of ideas. Over the course of nearly an hour, we questioned our ownership of our social media profiles, our photo storage accounts, our MacBooks, and our code.
After recent news quickly spread that Apple devices running MacOS failed to launch apps as the result of a failed verification process where a MacBook effectively pings Apple to ask for permission, a bit of an uproar ensued. Imagine believing your device is your own, only to find out that something as simple as opening an application is not entirely under your control?
Our frequent guest, Kyle Rankin, put his thoughts on the subject in an article on the Puri.sm blog, Apple Users Got Owned, and expanded in the podcast episode.
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.
We also noted strong reactions elsewhere, such as Twitter.
Following the revelations about Apple’s phone-home program on app openings, the company has just announced it’ll stop logging IPs (but anyone listening on the line still can), improve security with encryption, and allow opt out! 👍 https://t.co/Zg3S4dS8HS pic.twitter.com/gO1odYzlQg— DHH (@dhh) November 16, 2020
Revelations like these are unsettling for users who value ownership of and dominion over their devices. And for people who value the freedoms open source software provides, it’s that much more unpleasant to feel controlled by hardware or software.
We delved into a few other related subjects, and I hope you’ll listen and reach out to us with your thoughts.
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See You After the Holiday
We’re taking a short break for the Thanksgiving holiday in the US, so there won’t be a new podcast episode this week, or a corresponding newsletter. So, we’ll see you in December!
This Week’s Reading List
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.
Scripting News — This is Scripting News. It's Dave Winer's blog.
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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