The More Things Change The More Money Talks

If you are not paying for it, you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold.

There is a quote attributed to Andrew Lewis (who sells t-shirts emblazoned with it):

If you are not paying for it, you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold.

Keep that in mind. Things are changing in the tech world. They’re probably not changing for your benefit. As products evolve the user is more-and-more the product being delivered to others. You are less lkely to be in control of your digital fate.

The Times had a big article this weekend about HTML5 the new iteration of the language that runs the Worldwide Web.

In the next few years, a powerful new suite of capabilities will become available to Web developers that could give marketers and advertisers access to many more details about computer users’ online activities. Nearly everyone who uses the Internet will face the privacy risks that come with those capabilities, which are an integral part of the Web language that will soon power the Internet: HTML 5.

Marketers and advertisers are paying for access and they’ll call the shots! You are more valuable to them when they’ve probed into things you might consider private.

The same goes with your cellphone. My iPhone is jailbroken which means I’m not limited to installing programs Apple approves of and profits from. Jailbreaking is to my benefit not the benefit of the cell providers or operators of app stores.

A cautionary story circulating this weekend told the tale of T-mobile’s new tact to stop jailbreaking of its Android phones. Basically the phone will ‘cleanse’ itself of unapproved files you’ve loaded at regular intervals.

… when unsuspecting members of the public buy The “T-Mobile G2 with Google” phone at a T-Mobile store, they aren’t getting a customizable mobile computer or phone but are instead getting a device where the hardware itself dramatically limits users’ right to make changes to their computers and install the operating system of their choice.

Some tech sites have taken to calling the G2’s hidden program a ‘rootkit.’ That’s a scare tactic. However, to say this ‘feature’ acts the same way a difficult to cleanse computer virus acts isn’t far off point.

I saw early signs of this trend when I bought this Dell 640m with Windows Vista a few years ago. The ability to record audio that’s being sent to the speakers had been removed. The hardware to do it was still in the laptop (since it does it in its Windows XP version) but the functionality had been stripped from the operating system. This wasn’t done for end users but for content producers who are Microsoft’s more important customers.

If you’re used to surfing to anything on the Internet or fast forwarding your DVR through commercials be prepared to see those features fade! You’re benefitting to the detriment of those who really pay the freight.

The digital golden age might already be over.

One thought on “The More Things Change The More Money Talks”

  1. Sorry to disagree, but the tech industry will never become a closed system unless the consumer decides to buy into it (like they do now w/ iPhones, iPads, etc). Open Source alternatives will always exist. The more “closed” some systems become, the more “open” the new ones will be. Henry Ford offered Model T’s in any color you wanted as long as it was black. Ford’s competitors didn’t rush more black cars to market, they offered alternatives. OK, not sure if the analogy holds, but stay with me, I’m on a roll here! All I’m saying is the market will dictate the future on this issue.

    re: HTML5, the NYT author never mentions that fact that the code is excellent and long over-due, and it boils down to what an organization or developer chooses to do with that code, MOST of which can already be done now sans HTML5. It’s like the NRA argument: guns don’t kill people, people kill people. In this case, it’s not the code that’s dangerous, it’s what people choose to do with it. Nothing new, the internet has been this way since day one.

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