Macs No More: After Edward Snowden, Time to Come to the Penguin

From Huffington Post:


This can’t go on much longer. You know the scene: a laptop-y cafe, full of freelancers and trust funders occasionally checking each other out but mostly just staring into their luminous screens doing whatever start-up, world-shaking stuff they’re doing. But on the back of every single screen, almost, is that glowing apple with a bite bitten out of it — Mac after Mac after Mac.

Really? How long can the creative class tolerate such crass conformity? And now that Edward Snowden has revealed the U.S. government’s shadowy surveillance deals with companies like Apple and Microsoft, how long will we let ourselves be watched?

The apparently tranquil cafe scene lies in the crossfire of demons. Basically what’s going on right now is that the major tech companies — particularly Apple and Microsoft, though Google more ambiguously — are undertaking a fight to the death over which can more quickly totalitarianize the computer universe in which way too many of us live for too much of our lives. And to what momentous ends? So you’ll put the files you’ve poured your life into creating on their cloud servers. So they can insert ads into the programs you’re trying to use (which aren’t actual programs anymore, just “apps”). So they can keep you from knowing important stuff about the world or doing what might threaten their business model. So their employees can take over the trendy neighborhoods of your city. And, of course: so the government can watch everything you do.

The reason Apple stuff is so stylish is so we don’t have to be. With each new version of Mac OS X, the computer becomes more and more like an iPhone or an iPad — a device designed for controlled consumption, not real creating. (With Windows 8 and the Surface, Microsoft has a head start.) The idea is to turn the computer from a general-purpose anything-machine into a ad-distributing appliance. Your mind is meant to become one too, as the Pslamist predicted this long ago: “They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them.” We are what we use, and how.

Macs are on version 10.8 now, and 10.9 is next. What will come after that? 11.0? “XI”? That, or the journey toward the dark side will be complete.

It has been a decade or more since the big open-source buzz in Silicon Valley. (The revolution will be crowdsourced! Here comes everybody!)

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