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For one brief shining moment in the 1980s-1990s, it seemed like we the people would own and control our own computing infrastructure.

That we wouldn't ever after need permission from opaque central authorities to process data, send messages, create devices, teach machines ideas. No corporations or governments could put themselves between us and the data bits in our machines. We would be free to think.

That moment is rapidly slipping into a history that feels ridiculously over-optimistic.

We can now stream all the music we want, read all the books we want, binge-watch all the TV we want, host all the servers we want.

As long as we let the Corporations track every byte of our dataflow, and report us if we ever do [REDACTED] or [REDACTED] to or with or about [REDACTED].

This sure ain't what I signed up for on the Commodore 64.

@natecull One thing about the C64... you can store stuff locally and in perpetuity.

@natecull the fact that you had to decide to save your program to tape on the C64 is important in retrospect: you need to make an effort to decide to keep it, be willing to spend the time to save it, and value it enough to label it. later, when you didn't want it, you could record back over and know it wouldn't come back to haunt you.

@shanan That and you could always pull out the power and modem cables.

The idea that 'all our home and business records are wired 24/7 into Russian military computers, the NSA, Chinese state security and Jihadist rebels and we don't know if we're secure against them but we can't ever just unplug' was so far beyond our idea of the plausibly stupid in the 1980s that I think we still haven't caught up even now.

@natecull every once in a while, in the right place and time, you can see her memory.

The colors of her face always mystery.

In the moonlit night,
I see the visions of the past.
And I know my strongest fight,
For her will be my last.

We are far past the time for disobedience.

@natecull What was naïvely optimistic was the techno-futurists insisting that it would be automatic, because the technology dictated it. I knew that was BS, because I knew enough about the history of first radio then television broadcasting to know that both those technologies had similarly naïve optimism about them when they first appeared on the scene. Nothing's automatic, and capitalism is biased towards making profits, not liberating people.

@natecull Idealists throw the baby out with the bathwater. The ideals never had a chance, because only the corporations bothered to actually market their ideas.

Everything is sales. You won't get anywhere without a sales pitch. You won't even get a date. Whenever you're trying to impress anybody, that's sales, and that's what corporations are good at. It's not capitalism that sells an idea, it's marketing.

Mastodon is better at marketing than GNU Social was, which is why we're here.

@natecull (Note that the packaging, design and user experience of your product is also part of the marketing. Mastodon gets these right in a way that most free software does not.)

@natecull Also note the important distinction between a *technology* and a *product*.

TCP/IP and HTTP are excellent technologies that would have got nowhere as products.

What Mastodon does is to package the ActivityPub technology as a product, made available for free. That's exactly what you need to do to get a technology to succeed.

@natecull tbf, the 1980s are also the origins of cyberpunk, where everything is proprietary and controlled large corporations, and only weird freaks use homebrew

Essentially correct prediction, only it’s neckbeards instead of mohawks.

@natecull Yeah the problem isn't with the inability to do any of this, it's that people don't seem to remember or understand that corporations can effectively buy the methods to make it either impractical or illegal to do so.

Freedom doesn't really work when the tools involved in it are for sale.

@natecull A new generation is ready to pick up where they left off. It's not hopeless.

@natecull isn’t stuff like that why we are trying to build places like mastodon?

@natecull I don't remember it that way. In the 80s and early 90s nobody was on the internet unless they were one of the very few there via the revocable benevolence of an employer or university, using their resources. Except for baby Linux in 1991, there were no FOSS OS's. Home users were mostly in the AOL walled garden, if on the internet at all. That "shining moment" was the dream of a privileged technical elite. Only a dream even for them.

@natecull just... owning personal computers, then?

@edheil Yep! The 1980s culture of your personal computer being your *personal* computer. Air-gapped by default. An operating system in BIOS that would last the machines entire life, and could be instantly reset. If you wanted software, you made a deliberate choice to install it. If you didn't have a disk in the drive and the cover latched at boot, you knew you literally *could not get* a virus.

I don't know how to recover that level of trust that we had back then. But we've lost something big.

@edheil It was really the switch from dial-up to broadband Internet that did us in.

With dial-up, you could always air-gap when required.

Broadband and Wi-Fi? You can turn on 'Flight Mode' and.... something *might* get disabled, deep in the bowels of your OS and NIC and management CPU. You don't know, though.

Pulling an RJ-45 cable out of the phone jack was a MUCH more verifiable solution to privacy.

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