Linked by David Adams on Thu 1st Oct 2009 01:39 UTC
In the News As much as we like to stay away from letting real-world politics bleed over into our ongoing discussion of tech politics, I found an interesting essay over at The Economist's "Democracy in America" blog that draws a parallel between Apple's Mac/iPhone user-friendly ecosystem and the Microsoft Windows freer-but-more-chaotic ecosystem and how that lines up along the authoritarian/libertarian spectrum of real-world political division. They don't mention Open Source in this essay, but I'm sure it could make an interesting addition to the discussion. The essay's main point is that, in governance, attempts to make life more user-friendly for citizens usually ends up giving them less freedom of choice, and a certain segment of the political establishment will reliably oppose such moves. The idea that the tradeoff between choice and usability persists into the world of governance really set me to thinking. What kind of country would you rather live in? An Apple one, a Microsoft one, or an Open Source one?
Permalink for comment 387165
To read all comments associated with this story, please click here.
Comment by moleskine
by moleskine on Thu 1st Oct 2009 08:04 UTC
moleskine
Member since:
2005-11-05

A fully open source system is a utopian idea, I think, and it would only work if everyone played the same game. That means such a system would swiftly end up being terrifyingly authoritarian because it would require vigorous policing: since by ordinary inclination no one would live up to their rulers' fantasy ideas of human nature, citizens would have to be made to, in fact re-educated to - for their own good. Hmmn, I think we've been here before. Utopian political projects always end up as hell.

Apple sounds far too much like a benevolent dictatorship based on the cult of personality. Benevolent, that is, provided you don't cross il duce. His legal department will be swift to apply the castor oil if you do. Thanks, but no. We've been here before, too.

So that leaves Microsoft. Huge, sprawling, deeply capitalist, in love with marketing, overall probably closest to the way we actually live now, in the West anyway. Walking down the Microsoft product line - all those barkers touting wares on the basis of brash promises, bling, allure, legal trickery, small print, many hidden catches, with a design life of only 3-5 years - is very like walking down a modern shopping mall anyway.

So I think I'd choose Microsoft. Not because I like it but because it's closest to reality and the one most likely to leave you alone to get on with your life - provided you pay your taxes, of course. The freedom to be let alone is the one worth defending. Just don't ask me to like tax collectors.

Reply Score: 2