Liked Pluralistic: 28 Aug 2021 by Cory DoctorowCory Doctorow (pluralistic.net)

Network effects are how Facebook attracts users, but switching costs are how it holds them hostage.

The higher the switching costs, the bigger the shit sandwich Facebook can force you to eat before you leave.

That’s why interoperability is such a big deal – because it lowers the switching costs. If you can take your apps or friends or files or media with you when you leave a service, then the service has to treat you better, lest you depart.

Bookmarked Cory Doctorow: Tech Monopolies and the Insufficient Necessity of Interoperability (Locus Online)

Tech is the logical place to start, not just because everyone is fed up with tech, but because tech is so central to everything else we do – it provides the communications and coordination that are at the heart of every mass movement. And tech’s flex­ibility – that protean, foundational ability to plug everything into everything else – means that tech trustbusters have a uniquely suitable tool for prying apart monopolies: interoperability.

Forcing interop back into tech won’t be the end of the anti-monopoly fight, but it’ll be the end of the beginning – the necessary but insufficient step we’ll take before moving on to far more ambitious projects.

Cory Doctorow continues his discussion of anti-trust and the break-up of monopolies. He argues that the place to start is with technology companies. Using the example of the challenge of Australian railways to demonstrate what interoperability would mean for technology companies.

Despite all the handwringing over the inaccessibility of old digital data, the reality is that new computers can emulate old computers and run the programs that were used to create and read that data in the deep past of computing (getting the data off of old storage media that is physically deteriorating is another story). If Austra­lia’s middle-gauge muddle were a matter of digital incompatibilities, some programmers could whip up a “translation layer” that mediated between different tracks and cars and unify the system. If we can connect billions of devices running millions of versions of scores of operating systems to each other via the internet, getting six Australian states’ railcars to connect to each others’ (digital) tracks is a piece of piss.

Although we need to do more than open platform capitalism up in regards to interoperability, it is the start that has the potential to get the ball rolling in regards to change.

One of the interesting points that Docotorw made was that in the end the companies are really all the same, just with different flavours.

Maybe large companies all have the same ideology (“profit”). Maybe the distinctions between their characters are as meaningful as the “flavors” of the different marshmallows in a box of Lucky Charms. Maybe the reason John Legere worked at AT&T and Sprint before going to T-Mobile is that they are interchangeable monopolies whose top ranks all came up together, know each other, take vacations together, and are godparents to one-another’s children. Maybe they aren’t really rivals.
Maybe monopolists have class solidarity, is what I’m saying.

Replied to Thoughts on Jeet Heer’s Can We Bring Back Blogging? by Chris AldrichChris Aldrich (boffosocko.com)

Perhaps if everyone reads and writes from their own home on the web, they’re less likely to desecrate their neighbor’s blog because it sticks to their own identity?

There’s lots of work to be done certainly, but perhaps we’ll get there by expanding things, opening them up, and giving ourselves some more space to communicate?

Chris, I like your point about companies opening up, it reminds me Cory Doctorow’s discussion of interoperability as a means of fixing the internet.
Liked The Web’s Missing Interoperability (Stratechery by Ben Thompson)

The most frustrating aspect of the entire privacy debate is that the most ardent advocates of an absolutist position tend to describe anyone who disagrees with them as a Facebook defender. My motivation, though, is not to defend Facebook; quite the opposite, in fact: I want to see the social networking giant have more competition, not less, and I despair that the outcome of privacy laws like GDPR, or App Store-enforced policies from Apple, will be to damage Facebook on one hand, and destroy all of its long-term competitors on the other.

I worry even more about small businesses uniquely enabled by the Internet; forcing every company to act like a silo undoes the power of platforms to unlock collective competition (a la Shopify versus Amazon), whether that be in terms of advertising, payments, or understanding their users. Regulators that truly wish to limit tech power and unlock the economic potential of the Internet would do well to prioritize competition and interoperability via social graph sharing, alongside a more nuanced view of privacy that reflects reality, not misleading ads; I would settle for at least admitting there are tradeoffs being made.

Bookmarked Privacy Without Monopoly: Data Protection and Interoperability (Electronic Frontier Foundation)

In this paper, we imagine a world where interoperability and privacy go hand in hand, and abusive monopolists are not deputized to act as a private arm of the state. We can, and should, have both competition and privacy—and users should be able to enjoy the many other benefits of interoperability as well.

In this EFF white paper, Bennett Cyphers and Cory Doctorow continue the conversation about adversarial interoperability and the means of breaking up big tech by opening it up to data flows that also have a focus on privacy. Doctorow also read the paper across three parts: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.
Replied to Portability and Interoperability (Stratechery by Ben Thompson)

To be very clear, I’m pretty excited about Facebook’s announcement. Data portability is absolutely consumer friendly, and I’m glad that Facebook is making it easy to move photos and videos that have been lost to time to applications that are better suited for long-term storage.


At the same time, we shouldn’t kid ourselves that this has any sort of impact on competition. It is interoperability that cuts to the core of these companies’ moats, and to the extent regulators see it worthwhile to act, interoperability should be the priority.

Ben, this reminds me of Kin Lane’s argument that interoperability is a myth.
Listened Netflix’s decline and why stricter regulation could strengthen the tech giants from Radio National

Netflix dominates online TV streaming, but for how long?

The market appears to be decentralising, as major content-makers decide to abandon Netflix and go it alone.

Also, Cory Doctorow on how more government regulation could inadvertently make the tech giants even stronger.

What is needed, he says, is an emphasis on encouraging competition.

And meet the Scottish developer trying to build a genuine alternative to today’s surveillance-ridden internet.

Antony Funnell leads a conversation about the state of technology. He speaks with Stephen McBride about the future of Netflix, Cory Doctorow about the potential of interoperability to break up big tech and Nick Lambert on the creation of Maidsafe, an alternative to the internet.

Doctorow provides a useful introduction to the discussion of adversarial interoperability. He discusses the fact that many of today’s giants – Facebook, Google – had their starts through interoperability, but once settled they closed such doors.

Bookmarked Interoperability: Fix the internet, not the tech companies (Boing Boing)

The biggest Internet companies need more legal limits on their use and handling of personal data. That’s why we support smart, thorough new Internet privacy laws. But laws that require filtering and monitoring user content make the Internet worse: more hostile to new market entrants (who can’t afford the costs of compliance) and worse for Internet users’ technological self-determination.

Cory Doctorow makes the case for interoperability as a solution for fixing the internet. Rather than focusing on breaking up the platform capitalism, Doctorow argues that we need to open up applications to more engagement from the outside.

It’s possible to create regulation that enhances competition. For example, we could introduce laws that force companies to follow interoperability standards and oversee the companies to make sure that they’re not sneakily limiting their rivals behind the scenes. This is already a feature of good telecommunications laws, and there’s lots to like about it.

This is something Doctorow has been discussing quite a bit lately, especially in regards to adversarial interoperability. It is also something Stephen Wolfram his touched upon. On the otherside is Kin Lane who argues that interoperability is a myth.

Liked API Interoperability is a Myth | API Evangelist (API Evangelist)

Nobody, but us low-level delusional developers believe in API interoperability. The executives don’t give a shit about it. Unless it supports the latest myth-information campaign. In the long run, nobody wants their APIs to work together, we all just want EVERYONE to use OUR APIs!

Replied to Spotify is a Prison for Podcasts by ruk.ca (ruk.ca)

let this be a warning to you: if you use Spotify as your podcast app, you are a prisoner to Spotify, and if you decide to switch to another podcast app there isn’t any way to get your data out of Spotify.

In talking about applications today, a colleague used Spotify as an example of something that does what it does well. Obviously not that well. Can I also say, 2000 podcasts is some anti-library!
Liked Adversarial interoperability: reviving an elegant weapon from a more civilized age to slay today’s monopolies (Boing Boing)

Adversarial interoperability is the consumer’s bargaining chip in these coercive “negotiations.” More than a quarter of Internet users have installed ad-blockers, making it the biggest consumer revolt in human history. These users are making counteroffers: the platforms say, “We want all of your data in exchange for this service,” and their users say, “How about none?” Now we have a negotiation!

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