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Doctorow: the Coming War On General-Purpose Computing 439

Posted by Soulskill
from the fought-with-dollar-bills dept.
GuerillaRadio writes "Cory Doctorow's keynote at 28C3 was about the upcoming war on general-purpose computing driven by increasingly futile regulation to appease big content. 'The last 20 years of Internet policy have been dominated by the copyright war, but the war turns out only to have been a skirmish. The coming century will be dominated by war against the general purpose computer, and the stakes are the freedom, fortune and privacy of the entire human race.'" If you don't have time for the entire 55-minute video, a transcript is available that you can probably finish more quickly.
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Doctorow: the Coming War On General-Purpose Computing

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  • by RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) <taikiNO@SPAMcox.net> on Friday December 30, 2011 @06:30PM (#38543114)

    If we can't make the argument for general purpose computing then we get what we deserve.

    Most users never wanted freedom, they wanted to get work done or enjoy themselves. Unfortunately you don't need freedom for that. This is why the loss of basic and HyperCard doesn't matter.

  • by Samantha Wright (1324923) on Friday December 30, 2011 @06:55PM (#38543360) Homepage Journal
    "Walled" is when you have to pay a substantial developer license to be able to do what you just described. Which you do. That's at least a knee-high stone fence right there. By contrast, free software development on Windows and OS X is possible once you already have the OS.
  • by Absolut187 (816431) on Friday December 30, 2011 @07:10PM (#38543496) Homepage

    You can make a great argument, but it's never going to be as good as the bribes that Congress gets from big content.
    The bribes are perfectly legal under Citizens United.
    But your modification of an appliance that you "own" may be a felony.

  • by jamstar7 (694492) on Friday December 30, 2011 @07:43PM (#38543744)

    Way back in the way back, I had a computer upon which I had a development system and a web browser. It had a 16 MHz SPARC processor and 24 MB of RAM, a luxury back then. When the average cellphone of today is more powerful than the most powerful computers of then, this argument is beyond ridiculous.

    The difference is, you could write your own software to run on that SPARC, you weren't at the mercy of whatever was in the 'SPARC App Store'. You weren't made to jump through many many burning hoops to get the toolchain to build new SPARC apps. You could distribute those new apps any way you wanted, you weren't dependent on the 'guardians of the gate' at the 'SPARC App Store'. You could get a wild hair up your ass, sit down, code and compile your new app however you wanted it.

    Try that with your iphone.

    Back in the Stone Age, you busted your ass off for a couple weeks to get your card stack made and compiled. Then you went to the machine operators, the 'High Priests' of computing and prayed for some time on the mainframe to run your stack. And if you were lucky, they'd run it sometime in the following three weeks. The charge was up to $100/minute for processor time, and that was in real money, equivilent to about $1000/minute today. If you were a college kid running your program on college mainframe, they'd charge it to your department. If you didn't have a class or belong to a department that needed computer support, you had ZERO access to the mainframe.

    And now Big Media wants to turn the clock back to 1960 as far as computing goes. Are we having fun yet?

  • by Culture20 (968837) on Friday December 30, 2011 @07:45PM (#38543758)

    Eventually they will discover a killer app that they must be able to run on their device of choice - and then discover that since they went the iPhad route, they are completely denied the chance to use it.

    Already happened with tethering and copy/paste. iPhone users stuck through the hard times through three phone upgrades before they almost got what they wanted.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 30, 2011 @08:06PM (#38543964)

    The student edition of Visual Studio is about the same price.

    Next year I get to keep visual studio and keep writing programs for my general purpose computer.

    Next year I get to pay Apple again to renew my SDK license or everything I've written becomes uninstallable. When I do renew my SDK, I have to recompile everything to use the new certificate.

  • Re:Alarmism (Score:4, Informative)

    by jez9999 (618189) on Friday December 30, 2011 @08:57PM (#38544460) Homepage Journal

    Toasters are no longer simple mechanical devices for a reason. If an "appliance" concept really worked, all you'd need is a 555 timer chip and a variable resistor. There hasn't been a toaster that simple in almost 2 decades!

    Last time I checked, msot toasters were actually pretty much that simple. Exactly which toasters have you been experiencing in the last 2 decades, and what more functionality do they contain?

  • Re:Raspberry Pi (Score:5, Informative)

    by Simon Brooke (45012) <stillyet@googlemail.com> on Friday December 30, 2011 @09:13PM (#38544578) Homepage Journal

    The ARM was designed for, and first used in, general purpose computers; I had an Acorn Archimedes on my desk in 1988, and an R260 (running BSD 4.2 with X11 and OSF Motif) on my desk two years later. BSD and the whole of Debian including Gnome and KDE are available for ARM, and with quad core chips and both MacOS and Windows 8 currently in development for ARM, new general purpose ARM hardware - mostly ultra-portable, but also desktop - is definitely on the way.

  • Re:Raspberry Pi (Score:5, Informative)

    by Lumpy (12016) on Friday December 30, 2011 @10:04PM (#38544944) Homepage

    Radioshack has always sold a Macrovision remover. it was called the VHS video stabilizer. anyone that had a clue was able to get a device to defeat macrovision easily and cheaply.

    And if you had a clue about electronics, you could easily turn down the AGC setting on the VCR and defeat it.

  • Re:Raspberry Pi (Score:2, Informative)

    by Grishnakh (216268) on Friday December 30, 2011 @10:15PM (#38545016)

    No, they aren't. First, they're not PCs (that distinction is reserved for computers using PC architecture), and they're not general purpose as they're locked down too much. They could be general-purpose, but they're not because the carriers don't allow it. As long as a device can only get applications from an "app store" where only pre-approved apps are allowed, then it's not "general purpose".

  • Re:Raspberry Pi (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 30, 2011 @10:24PM (#38545090)
    Same video on YouTube [youtube.com], in case you don't want to go to an ad and javascript infested online mag.
  • Re:Raspberry Pi (Score:5, Informative)

    by Luckyo (1726890) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @02:45AM (#38546338)

    You missed my point. I meant that "garage hacker" crowd, regardless of their line of business is going after discovering the new low hanging fruit. They have nothing to do in internal combustion engine for car fuel efficiency business anymore, as all easy improvements to the engine have been done and current advances require extreme levels of investment and expertise.

    Similar thing will happen in the application stores in near future. All of the apps that are easy to make, provide a new and useful utility and haven't been done yet will be done. And then the revolution phase turns into evolution phase, where improvement takes place from inventing. At this point, "garage hacker" crowd goes looking for a new low hanging fruit, and larger commercial entities invest into improving the already existing pool of technology in the field.

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