Freedom: the core value of hackers
Most people enjoy the feeling of being free. But, How free are we really?
I’m not talking about free will and all that stuff, I’m simply talking about who we have to ask before being able to do something, anything.
Can you build a house on any plot of land you own? Certainly not.
Do you want to change the battery of your ultra-slim laptop (because buying a new one is pure waste when all the other parts are working perfectly)? You are mostly out of luck.
How free are you to buy a house with a bad credit score?
While there are a lot of complex reasons that lead us to give away small chunks of our freedom here and there, I think there is one thing to be aware of and to resist in order to take back control.
How dependent on Facebook (WhatsApp and Instagram included) are you to stay in touch with your family and friends?
How free are you to repair your car with all this electronic stuff (“because you know, with all this telemetry, we will be able to adjust your assurance to your advantage 😜😜”)?
How dependent on the manufacturer of your smartphone or laptop are you to repair it?
How dependent on big AG are you if the farmers of your province can’t repair their tractors?
Dependency leads to domestication. This is feudalism 2.0.
There is an inverse relation between your freedom and your dependence on others.
But there is a glimmer of hope.
This is what the hacker tribe is fighting for: the right to study, repair and modify.
In the software world, this is called Open Source.
With easily repairable and modifiable stuff, you no longer are dependent on this big company. You can repair your stuff yourself, or your expert cousin, or this small shop in your town.
Actually, the right to repair is the only way forward if we want to stop the e-waste apocalypse.
Taking back control
Taking back control from these organizations is the goal of the hacker movement. Whether it be in the digital space or within traditional (legacy) political institutions with the Pirate Party.
Here is a list of products, companies or entities that do whatever they can to domesticate you. As long as you play by their rules, you will be (mostly) cherished.
Apple: the company whose market cap (whatever it means…) is bigger than most countries of the world. They built their empire on domestication. Their devices are locked down: You can’t repair them yourself and you can’t run the software you want on it (with a few exceptions).
Facebook and Twitter: Once you publish data on their platforms, it becomes theirs. Their sole purpose is to have you connected to their sites and apps as long as possible in order to gather data and show you ads. Think twice before storing all your pictures on Instagram: I can’t even access the “public” photos of my friends because I don’t have an account!
Tesla: Think how bad the smartphone ecosystem is when we are talking about freedom and repairability. Now think about what it would look like applied to your freedom of movement.
Be aware that if some stuff takes freedom away from you, it’s on purpose. The following projects and companies prove it: you can build a sustainable project that gives more freedom and empowers your customers.
The Framework Laptop: a fully modular and repairable laptop. All that being. If you are in the market of buying a laptop, I strongly recommend you to take a look at it as the feedback from customers are pretty good!
Element (and Matrix): is a decentralized chat Application and protocol. You no longer want to use their servers to store your encrypted messages? Good news! You can self-host it on your own server or even on a Raspberry Pi at home.
Purism: is a company building only free software and hardware. They are building the most promising Linux phone: the Librem 5. and are providing a suite of hosted open source and decentralized services: Librem one.
The Linux Operating System: (GNU/Linux blahblah… I know) empowers its users to run software they control on their computers. This is especially important in an era where a line has been crossed and our devices are becoming personal informants.
Schi-Hub: giving back knowledge to the people who actually funded its discovery.
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