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chelleliberty

About chelleliberty

Philosopher, Software Engineer, Musician (6-/12-string guitar + vocals), Comedienne, and other stuff as I like it.

Inventor of the term "Techdirtian".

Designer of the e-Turtle Phone.

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Posted on Techdirt - 12 May 2012 @ 12:00pm

Chelleliberty's Favorite Techdirt Posts Of The Week

from the things-unseen dept

Unintended Consequences

My favorite posts from this week are definitely the ones highlighting 'things unseen'. Many people have been raised on the idea that, for any problem that exists, there must exist some perfect law that the government can create to solve it; and, further, that our governments exist solely to find these laws and bring them into force for no other reason than to benefit the citizenry. Never mind that many of these problems were created by bad laws in the first place: this time perfection will be had and everything will be fixed, as if by magic.

Security through Inanity

For instance, why leave e-security up to companies that will just give up their customers' private information willy-nilly due to the otherwise high costs of protecting it? Certainly, the government will do better than the selfish corporations who clearly have no incentive to be secure! (Because, of course, the silly populace will still flock to sites that are known for constantly turning their customers into victims.) Well, South Korea knows better, and made sure that their citizens were protected.

Well, at least protected from using a free/libre OS like GNU/Linux for e-commerce (or indeed any OS other than Windows) since that wouldn't make any sense, would it? I mean, Microsoft is just a big, evil, monopolistic organization, so clearly there's no better way to protect people from them than to give them a de facto monopoly on the browsers that people use, as well as the websites that sell them stuff. Oh, and even on non-commerce sites because (due to the fact that IE is required to do any sort of shopping online) most average users will just end up using IE for everything.

Imitation: the Sincerest Form of Getting Sued

Few deny that Apple has made some of the more aesthetically pleasing devices that end up in people's hands these days, and, certainly, not allowing people to simply copy their designs should lead to more desirable designs from their competitors. And you don't have to look any further than the Samsung Galaxy S3 smartphone to see how well this works in practice. Oh, look at those non-black borders, the slightly asymmetrical shape, and that glorious blobbiness!

Yes, this is clearly a demonstration of how important it is to allow Apple to protect the small team with minimal imagination enormous creativity and investment necessary to come up with a rectangular device with a screen and black borders; and how much innovation the public as a whole gained by forcing another manufacturer to ever-so-slightly deviate from what is an immensely obvious and easier-to-produce innovative design. After several iterations of this method, we can certainly expect to see more awesomeness! Imagine, some day we may have phones shaped like the Mandelbrot set turtle, all because we have laws to lead us.

(Hey, the e-Turtle Phone is gonna be big! Hit me up if you want to invest.)

Win One for the Future

And who could forget the ill-fated SOPA and PIPA that, if passed, would have provided "tools" for the government to "use" to protect us from stuff, since certainly it doesn't already have the authority or power to do what it needs to do to protect big media's our interests. So, fortunately, we now have CISPA in the works, since we all know that absolutely nothing could ever possibly go wrong with this law. Sure, privacy was great and all, but... Pirates! Child Porn! ANARCHISTS! Sometimes you gotta kill a few dolphins to make tuna salad, y'know what I mean? It's not like, as a whole, folks aren't already giving most of their privacy away anyway, via Facebook and other sites. So it's just pretty much admitting to the inevitable anyway, right?

Final Dirt

I unfortunately don't see a quick fix here. The governments and corporate interests will continue to behave badly, and the rest of us will likely find little enough marginal utility in protesting whatever the latest, greatest law is that we won't have the collective power to stop it, much less the power to reverse already long-standing law and precedent. (Well, unless we can find a way to have as much impact on the average citizen as when Wikipedia supported the protests against SOPA.)

But my guess is that, as happened during SOPA/PIPA, government will overplay its hand. The youth and other technically-savvy folks can see through the BS better than the average politician can understand what makes us tick. We've already been seeing an uptick in support for radical ideas of liberty which seemed practically dead in the 1990's and early 2000's, and I think the SOPA protests were a great initial volley in the fight to bring back some sense to things.

One way or another, the multitude of poor decisions being made are unsustainable, and on the day that we do collectively take action, I think a lot of politicians are going to find the real meaning of unintended consequences... right before they start to look for another job.

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