Control and Power

It’s something that I’ve written about before and will write about again, but each time another wound occurs I feel the need to use some of the spilt blood to limn out another useless cri di couer.

When I first started using computers during the early 80s, each new upgrade brought more power, more control, more capabilities.

No more. Now, more is being taken away, being seized and locked down tight — for “security,” for “safety,” for “usability” and a million other bogus reasons. But it’s all for the same reason. It’s all for control, a form of power.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that what really thrills people, what innervates them and makes them feel worthwhile is the exercise of and enjoyment of power.

Not a new insight, but in a capitalist system it is assumed by nearly everyone that the highest desiderata is profit, but in reality it is as it has always been: the lust for power drives it all.

This explains why I can’t do with a computer the things I could do easily in 1985, or even 1995 — why I can’t control my own hardware, my own browser, where I read my books or how I view my own videos and the movies of others.

To those who believe that “profits” and the desire thereof explains this, how do you explain Gnome or its rabid developers, all the restrictions gestated in and foisted upon open source projects where profit is a minor concern, if it exists at all?

No, profit is a poor framework for understanding why computers and similar devices (tablets, phones, websites) now exist in a permanent state of brokenness: power and its thrill is the explanation, the golden apple for which these types grasp.

Each upgrade I now fear, and dread. My partner said the same thing, about how wary she is wary of upgrading anything on her machine, her devices, for she also knows much that made it useful will be removed, discarded, for her “own good,” and the tool rendered a paperweight or the application the software equivalent of a Bop It.

Even Linux is not immune; in fact, it is one of the worst now in both its GUI projects and the behind-the-scenes “innovations” like systemd. Linux and its ecosystem is in the main now more similar to Apple and its worst aspects than any other company and set of practices.

Not much can be done. The industry is consolidating and worthless putzes like Lennart Poettering and whoever runs Mozilla these days are in full control. But at least I can spew hearty imprecations at them which while it won’t reverse the tide will at least offend their ever-more-fragile sensibilities.