The techlash marks the end of complacency over Big Tech: in a single instant, states have gone from being completely blase about the risks of a monopolized digital world run by high-handed CEOs who answer only to their shareholders, to being certain that the answer involves limiting the excesses of the digital monopolists…by enshrining them as permanent monarchs of the internet and then extracting some regulatory promises from them.
It’s a form of Constitutional Monarchy, in which Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter and their ilk are acknowledged as the rightful rulers of the net, and then subjected to the limits placed on them by aristocratic/technocratic regulators.
There’s a better way. A more democratic way. The way of the hacker. Hackers don’t accept take-it-or-leave it offers. Instead, hackers take the parts they want and filter out the parts they don’t. The most democratic future is one in which we tame big tech by taking away its legal right to stop users — and the toolsmiths who serve them — from picking and choosing the parts of the platforms we like, configuring them to suit our needs with third-party tools, and tearing up the take-it-or-leave it deal that’s on the table today.
It’s undemocratic to have the world shaped by a tiny elite of coders. It’s less democratic to leave the shape of the world up to the coders’ massive profit-driven employers. The MOST democratic future is one where everyone gets to hack, where we seize the means of computation and distribute it to everyone.
A public lecture by Cory Doctorow followed by a Q&A with Jad Abumrad.