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Software is Law

Table of Contents

1. Software is law unescapable.

As long as one wants, or needs, to use some software, one has to put up with whatever the software does, even if it does not have anything with the task at hand.

Contemplate how abusive many operating systems have become. I had to give an e-mail address (a real one!) before I could log in in a recent computer I bought, and I had to test it first on Windows just to check if everything was working, to avoid installing Linux and wrongly blaming it for some hardware problem. The blasted thing updates by itself, reboots by itself, and seems to collect all kind of data from me. The only actual solution for that is using something else. Still, many do not have that option, since they do not know how to use any alternative, or indeed the alternative might not exist.

2. Most users are hostage,

Most computer users I know are quite resigned about all this, and accept the god-given decrees from on high willingly, though with some sprinkling of curses here and there, for coping.

This is a rather funny state of things. When I got my first computer, a 386 with 50MB of RAM soldered to the motherboard, I did not have the option of accepting what the computer did, because it did not do much. Instead of trying to stop the computer from doing what I did not want, I had to whip it into doing something. Nowadays it is quite the reverse.

3. but ‘power users’ do have a way out,

Now, not every hostage is necessarily powerless, for the ones initiated in the arcane arts of configuration, scrolling and clicking expertly through ever-changing menus, they can, usually, bend those demons to their wills. The οἱ πολλοί do not know how to do so, or do not seem to care.

4. and that is so deliberately.

I have stumbled on a curious suggestion, which prompted the writing down of this my rant, that those escape paths are indeed engineered to keep ‘power users’ content, so they do not spread discontent around.

Based on my recollection of forum posts I read at the time this was called “boiling the power users out” or something similar. From what I can remember this tactic involves implementing harmful features in such a way that the very loud “power user” minority would be able to nullify changes that are otherwise just out of reach for the average user.

(source, 2019-06-04)

An earlier use of this curious expression, the “boiling” of users:

It’s quite possible it might not have been on purpose, it’s not fun to assume every company is out to screw you in some Machiavellian plot. It could’ve been pure goodwill to leave people with a way out. However, I believe the end effect doesn’t change. Experts remain in relative bliss, while consumers are slowly boiled to death.

(source, 2017-03-18)

Instead of upsetting the power users and having to revert the new features due to the commotion they cause, if the power users are kept content, everything can go on smoothly to hell. Oh nice.


· © Edgard Bikelis (eſb) created using Emacs 29.0.50 (Org mode 9.5.3) ·
· created: 2019-12-13 last modified: 2020-05-23 ·