Due to the apple unveiling event taking place tomorrow, I have decided to stray from my usual topic and talk a about the commercialization in software! This will also give insights into my future posts.
Last post, I talked about how computers had become tainted with overuse, and how all computers became poorly maintained over time. This is mainly due to the commercialization of software. In the beginning, only experts could use computers. One of the main reasons for this was the command line, a prompt where you would type commands to do everything on a computer. To use it, one had to remember commands, parameters to those commands, and pay a penalty for any mistyped commands. It was easy to ‘brick’ an entire system with a typo on the command line. With the invent of the graphical user interface (or GUI), a new era of computing started.
Now, suddenly, it was extremely easy to use a computer! One could simply click on a icon to run a program, rather than having to memorize commands. One could check boxes instead of memorize command line arguments! And most importantly, confirmations were added, to reduce the possibility of breaking your system.
Naturally, this kind of computing exploded, as literally anyone had access to the power of a computer, with no training. The corporations that developed these GUI’s exploded into the giants that we know today: Apple, and Microsoft. The command line, at least in windows, was a shunned tool, thrown away like a old sock. Computer ‘Experts’ became those who knew what all the little buttons do, instead of those who had spent years learning about the internals of a computer. The ‘stupid user’ became someone who had literally no prior experience with technology, maybe forced into a computing job. All possible because of the GUI.
However, the GUI gave companies the power to lock its users in. All the users had no idea about the internals of a computer, they ‘just wanted to get work done’. So naturally, the GUI’s constricted, giving less and less of those options that were needed by the true professionals, as the target audience was those who had no idea how computers work. Recently, the corporations have taken it even farther, by essentially forcing certain mandates on its users. Windows has many ‘features’ that limit a user’s freedom, from having the power to delete programs on its computers, to sending information about usage back to Microsoft. Apple actively fights users who are trying to gain freedom, by voiding warranty on ‘jailbroken’ products, limiting apps on the app-store, and placing backdoors in products available to Apple itself, giving them almost full control over every apple product. Of course, the users don’t care… They just want to ‘use a computer’. The professionals who were around before this revolution are warning of the consequences to accepting these products, but very few people are listening, as no one simply cares. All who ‘disagree’ are either ignorant to these changes being ‘marketed’ to them in plain sight, or are willing to trade usability and ease of use for their freedom.
In order to truly learn about computers, you need to bypass the restrictions that corporations put on you, so you can have full access to the wonderful machine you own, and the only way to do that is by utilizing free software. Because of this, I will mainly be showing you how to use free software, rather than proprietary alternatives, because proprietary software simply limits what is possible for a computer to do.
When you go down to the apple store and attempt to get that iPhone 6, think about how much freedom are you willing to give up. Do you even have the freedom to abstain from buying the new iPhone? Or are you just digging yourself a hole of reliance from which you have no possibility of escaping…