Mastodon discussion

Jump to: navigation, search
Edited by author.
Last edit: 00:40, 5 June 2017

This is my attempt to make it possible to respond at length to Morbius's tootstorm on Mastodon, which appears to have started here.

I'm going to keep the toots separate in order to allow for individual threads off each one, for clearer context.

I've also interpreted a bit and left out some interstitial pieces.

Woozle (talk)22:57, 4 June 2017

"The whole history of Microsoft from its origin is about the primacy of software over hardware. Hardware is a commodity — software is where the value lies."

This ... explains so much.

It's also an interesting example of how framing blinds one to further understanding: do we argue the merits of HW vs. SW in this dichotomy, or look for value elsewhere?

What of computers as nodes on a network: traffic, search, attention, users (you remember users, right?), ads, etc.

Dr. Edward Morbius (part 1/9)
Woozle (talk)00:23, 5 June 2017

The article describes MS and OSes, Vista particularly, but touches on what the different components of a system do: the OS, the applications, the hardware. The network. Netscape and Java as threats to the shrinkwrap moat Microsoft had built.

Too: if SW is your value proposition, what could /possibly/ be more threatening than the concept of Free Software.

There are two ways to control a river: one is to dam it. The other is to steal it. Diverting flows can be far more powerful.

Dr. Edward Morbius (part 2/9)
Woozle (talk)00:24, 5 June 2017

The fundamental problem, for the organisation (or individual) looking at modifying the shape of this space is: how do I sustain my own efforts?

Microsoft threw a moat around a commodity by way of per-CPU licensing -- the phenomenal break which launched an empire.

Microsoft were threatened when its monetisation gateway -- shrinkrwaps, preloads, per-CPU licenses -- was challenged by DR-DOS, Novell, Sun, Netscape, Linux, BeOS. And ultimately Google, Search, Ads. And Gmail.

Dr. Edward Morbius (part 3/9)
Woozle (talk)00:26, 5 June 2017

The war of the Five Titans now is one over where to dig moats and lay down drawbridges, and ticket-booths. Google. Apple. Amazon. Facebook. Microsoft.

MS is still, mostly, based on preloads and sales, though it's shifting to subscriptions + ads.

Google is straight-up advertising.

Apple refutes that hardware is a commodity.

Amazon sells ... everything else.

Facebook is Google, but weaker: Advertising without intentionality. (But it's bigly useful for tyrants and puppets.)

Dr. Edward Morbius (part 4/9)
Woozle (talk)00:27, 5 June 2017

If I can call a winner out of the set, I'm leaning to Amazon.

(I don't /want/ to lean to Amazon, but it seems to make sense.)

The problem with Google, Microsoft, and Facebook, is that what they're selling is ultimately what the /user/ does not want: ads.

Amazon, though, has what we really want: /stuff/. Food, clothing, furniture, books, movies, hardware, software. Some of which you absolutely need to live, and yes, much of which you don't (which means an incentive for over-selling).

Dr. Edward Morbius (part 5/9)
Woozle (talk)00:28, 5 June 2017

But stuff is what everything else (and most especially ads) are trying to deliver.

What Apple's got to offer is probably next-best: ideally, a solid set of hardware -- desktop, laptop, and a massive shit-ton of mobile devices. Things you can hold, or at least put your hands on.

Things which don't have to be a channel for slamming more crud down the users' maws (though Apple does seem to be moving rather distressingly in this direction). Which means a much better experience, overall.

Dr. Edward Morbius (part 6/9)
Woozle (talk)00:29, 5 June 2017

Google and Facebook are the Devil and L'il Evil. Both of them are increasingly creepy, spooky, surveilling, and intruding, unavoidably, where users (and non-users) don't want them to be.

The reward systems of each company are fundamentally aligned against user interests. Something a couple of Stanford researches pointed out a while back.
Dr. Edward Morbius (part 7/9)
Woozle (talk)00:35, 5 June 2017

Question I've got is: what other options are there?

Silicon Valley and Ycombinator have been cranking out iterations over the past decade or so with no real relief in sight. Variations on the "we are going to invade your life with ads" are common, anything else, not so much, in the general systems, hardware, or services category.

Business services are the chief exception.

Dr. Edward Morbius (part 8/9)
Woozle (talk)00:37, 5 June 2017

Question I've got, and no, I don't really have an answer to it: where else might the value lie?

Why can't we solve the problem of "provide general information-system access to the masses" without turning into assholes, creeps, thugs, and/or spies? Or insulting the customers?

Are we holding it wrong?

Dr. Edward Morbius (part 9/9)
Woozle (talk)00:39, 5 June 2017

The answer is to put it down and get a different model. which I mean, of course, a different business model: one oriented towards the public good rather than towards shareholder profits. (Stop me if this is sounding familiar.)

(originally posted here)

Woozle (talk)00:41, 5 June 2017

Models built around shareholder profits seem to dominate though. Why is that?

Dr. Edward Morbius (part 1/2 of toot)
Woozle (talk)00:42, 5 June 2017

The answer seems like a no-brainer to me, but I'm having trouble wordifying it...

Okay, short version: because for-profit investors are the entities with the lion's share of resources in our society, as it now stands.

(originally posted here)

Woozle (talk)00:45, 5 June 2017

"Shareholders have resources" punts on the question why do shareholders have value?

I've been digging into dynamics of joint-stock ownership, limited liability, various mint and money acts, financial conferences, etc., over the past couple of years, with a few interesting hits in the past few days. I apply the principle of William R. Cattton, Jr.: focusing on the /personalities/ involved -- or even some given identifiable social group, strikes me as grossly miscast.

The problem transcends this. It's based on some set of dynamics.

What is it about the overall structure, the feedbacks, the dynamics? How can this possibly be addressed?

For example: what are the types of goods, services, or other phenomena which are priced within an economic system, and what is the behaviour of those prices?

Crack open Smith and you'll find commodities, labour, skilled labour, rent, stock, capital, and money discussed. It's a good start.

And in the case of rents, the salient behaviour is that a rentier is one who is able to extract the surplus value out of a system.

I've been flipping this around for a while, and trying to sort out why, and what it is that rent-producing entities are. What I'm leaning toward is that they are network control nodes. That is, if you own a rent-producing entity, you control a gateway through a network.

Woozle (talk)00:47, 5 June 2017

(new response, not from Mastodon threads)

Well, I did say it was the short version ;-)

Yes, it's a dynamic, and there's a dynamic behind the dynamic:

  • Our laws are designed to encourage concentrations of power.
  • Why? Partly because the early framers didn't trust regular folks to make decisions, but also partly because somewhere along the line the concentrations got large enough to overpower the governmental mechanisms designed to keep them in check.
  • How did this happen?
  • I don't know for sure, but I feel very inclined to point a finger at technology.
    • Tech creates power. If you don't regulate it somehow, you get a power vacuum that is filled by selfish interests. We didn't regulate fast enough, and selfish interests are now overwhelming and destroying our regulatory ability.
      • This is probably a tale as old as civilization, but at least now we have the tools to study it in real-time and perhaps work out some countermeasures.
Woozle (talk)01:04, 5 June 2017

And if the orientation itself is a problem, how do you change things such that that orientation is less successful.

How do you steal the river?

Dr. Edward Morbius (part 2/2 of toot)
Woozle (talk)00:44, 5 June 2017

Co-ops seem to generally be a good model, though I'd like to improve on it with machine-net-facilitated interaction (hence InstaGov).

Capitalism depends on convincing us that most people are selfish, but this is a reality-inversion.

(originally posted here)

Woozle (talk)00:45, 5 June 2017