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Martin Karlsson
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Permission Taken -- a summary and outline

As I noted here recently, I've started working on new book/web project on freedom in technology and communications -- a user's guide on how to have it, and why you need it.

I've posted a summary and outline in a Google Doc (linked below) on which anyone can comment. Here's the summary:

Not many years ago, I was a happy acolyte in the Church of Apple. I spent most of the day using a Macintosh laptop. I used an iPhone. I had a Facebook account with hundreds of “friends,” and used Google’s search engine almost exclusively. While I worried about misuse of my information by third parties, I didn’t do much about it. I was so in love with technology that I adopted the latest and greatest without considering the consequences.

I still love technology, and believe it plays a transformative role in our lives. But as I’ve learned more about how it works, and how powerful interests want it to work, the more I’ve realized the need to make some changes.

So, today, I’m writing this on computer running Linux, the free and open operating system. I own an Android smartphone, “hacked” to remove restrictions the manufacturer and carrier would prefer to impose. I have closed my Facebook account, and use search engines in much different ways. And I am much more cautious about what I’ll allow third parties to know about me and my activities.

By making these and many related choices, I have made parts of my life slightly less easy, or at least less convenient. But I have gained something more important: liberty. I use the devices I purchase as I choose; I decline to live in the increasingly restricted environments that so many technology and communications companies have imposed on their customers. And to the extent that I am able, I’m preventing snoops, corporate and governmental, from watching my every move without my consent. On balance, I believe, I’ve made my life better.

That’s why I’m doing this project: to help you make your own decisions.

My goal is simple: I’ll try to persuade you to do what I’m doing, or to go at least part of the way toward declaring your own independence. In the end, you may well prefer to stick with the conveniences of the Mac, Windows, iPhone and the rest. (I still use all of them for occasional bits of work.) But I hope you’ll at least consider what you’re giving up when you make those choices, not just what you gain. I want you to have open eyes and an open mind as you decide what you want technology to do for you, in the context of your own needs and your values.

In this book, and on the accompanying website, I’ll tell you about the various options and methods to recapture some privacy and freedom in your use of technology (assuming you want them). In several of the most popular tools, such as the Linux operating system, I’ll provide a basic user’s guide to get you started.

I’ll also note, where appropriate, the irony or maybe even hypocrisy inherent in some of my own choices. As a shareholder in Amazon and Netflix, I’ve invested in a certain amount of control-freakery. I’ve posted this outline, at least temporarily, as a Google Document, and am spreading word via Google+ and Twitter (and hope Facebook users will spread it there), in order to get as much participation as I can -- even though I may ultimately conclude that Google is itself a serious threat (I’m not there yet and may never be).

Occasionally, the tools I’ll describe will raise ethical and legal questions, not just issues of convenience and ease of use. In all cases, I’ll tell you about the tradeoffs and dilemmas you will face if you move part or all of the way toward technological liberty.

Why do I keep using the word “liberty,” anyway? Because this is truly about your freedoms. They are in jeopardy now, and the trajectory is not a positive one.

The link below goes to the Google Doc:

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We have gotten back on our feet many times in the past, sometimes after self-inflicted national disasters. We will do it again. But we need encouragement and enlightened leadership from our strong partners, not arm-twisting or further humiliation.
The European Union is founded on a healthy balance of national responsibility and European solidarity; we must rediscover that.

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Q: Why does electronic communication reduce the level of civility?

A: If you weren't such a dumb loser I'd tell you.

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Was discussing this +Rob Weir on IRC.

Sony is asking for people to contribute to a re-write of BusyBox so they can avoid using BusyBox which is one of the few pieces of GPL software that actually enforces its own copyrights. The irony here is that Sony is simultaneously wanting stricter copyright enforcement for copyrighted material it owns, but will do anything it can to avoid abiding by the copyright terms of other copyright owners (some of whose copyrights it may well be in breach of).

It would be really nice to see one of the big kernel contributors (eg Redhat) work to get its copyrights in the Linux kernel enforced across the board.

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Interesting read.
My rant about why it's too late to save the common web from Facebook, Google, Amazon and other 'data black holes.'

It's even too late for +John Battelle and +Dave Winer to save us.

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