ThoughtStorms Wiki

Context: PlatformCapitalism, SurveillanceCapitalism, SocialSoftwareProblems, TheUltimatePlatformWar

Platforms could be so much more useful and less exploitative : UsefulPlatforms

Quora Answer : How do you feel about the growing influence of tech companies?

Aug 12, 2020

I think talking about "growing influence of tech companies" is the wrong way to think about it.

I'm a software guy, and a strong advocate of free-software (ie. open source).

Free-software isn't about not paying for software. It's not some obscure eccentricity to want to use Linux and Firefox.

It's about defending our freedom. The freedom of individual users in the face of the inevitable power that those who provide services through computers have.

Basically ... companies are always going to try to exploit whatever power they have. Because their profit motive more or less forces that on them. However much Google doesn't want to be evil.

The more that software eats the world; the more powerful the tech. companies become; the more crucial it is to defend our freedom.

But to do that, we have to take responsibility.

We have to choose to use free (open-source) software. We have to choose to use platforms that have open protocols. That let our data and our relationships be migrated to other systems when we want.

Right now, we've let social media platforms own our relationships. That's basically our fault. We had (and still have) more open options. You can use Mastodon instead of Twitter. You can publish your thoughts on your blog or wiki rather than on Medium or Quora. You can use alternatives to Facebook and Instagram

Of course, we are all constrained by the choices not just that we want to make, but that our friends make. If they insist on Instagram, then we inevitably get pulled in there.

But there is no answer to "the growing influence of tech. companies" but to insist on our own freedom.

If we choose free software. And tell the platform owners, in no uncertain terms, that we are using them as a convenience for only as long as they work for us. If we refuse to allow our content, our relationships and ourselves to be owned by them. Then we have a chance.

But if we all allow the tech. companies to own us. To enclose our online social lives, and make those online lives, their data and their property. Then, yeah, we're going to be screwed. (And yes, I recognise the irony of writing this on Quora and not on my blog or wiki. Though I will soon move it there.)

See also :