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.

@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.


@edheil Wasn't talking about the Internet.

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@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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