Techdirt Podcast Episode 198: Life Without The Tech Giants

from the experimentation dept

One of the most common responses to various complaints about giant tech companies is that you can just not use their products and services. Many people have pointed out just how difficult that would really be, but Gizmodo's Kashmir Hill decided to try it for real: she cut Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Apple out of her life for a week each, followed by a week without any of them. Her report on that final, empty week is coming out soon, but in the mean time she joins us on the podcast to talk about what it's like to live without big tech.

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Filed Under: kashmir hill, podcast, technology
Companies: amazon, apple, facebook, google, microsoft

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  1. icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), 6 Feb 2019 @ 8:37am

    My takeaways:

    I'm glad I wasn't drinking anything when Ms. Hill said Apple was the good guys, or I might have literally done a spit take! If she wants to talk about antitrust regulators being asleep at the wheel, there's your prime target right there; any reasonable antitrust enforcer ought to take one look at how Apple's App Store works and immediately reach for the nearest Hammer of Smacking-Down.

    Checking Google to see if you have Internet connectivity is a perfectly reasonable thing to do and is not weird at all. I've used the same trick myself various times. To check connectivity, you have to try to connect to something, and of the various sites that you can be reasonably secure in the assumption that they will never be down, Google is one of the fastest and most lightweight options.

    While I wouldn't go so far as to call the notion of the Web starting out decentralized "a hopelessly naive myth," the guy above is right that it was never particularly wide-open. It's become more consolidated as time goes by, but that's to be expected if you have any understanding of human nature. There are advantages and disadvantages to both centralization and decentralization, but history has shown over and over again that centralization and consolidation wins out, pretty much every single time. (Which is why we need antitrust enforcers who are not asleep at the wheel. That consolidation is sometimes a good thing, but sometimes it very much is not!)

    Ms. Hill hit the nail right on the head when she talked about large tech companies essentially being the de facto government of the Internet, and Mike didn't seem to be disagreeing with this point the way he did with some of the other points she raised. This seems odd, as he's disagreed quite vocally when I raised similar points in the past and pointed out where the logical conclusion lies.

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