What walled gardens do to the health of the Web, and what to do about it


23 Responses to “What walled gardens do to the health of the Web, and what to do about it”

  1. Boundegar says:

    But it hasn’t become impossible to use metadata, or RSS or whatever.  Those tools are still available.  Dash’s complaint seems to be that he can’t use those things with the Apple store, or Youtube or whatever.

    So what?  Back in the Golden Age of Geeks, you couldn’t either, because the Apple store didn’t exist yet.  Nobody’s stopping you from programming and creating content using the older, open-source tools. 

    This isn’t a straw man argument.  Every time we hear about companies fighting Net Neutrality or installing draconian EULA, my first thought is, how about we just don’t use that tool?  There are plenty of other tools, and plenty of geeks to make them work.  Why not buy an open-source phone?  Why not start up an ISP in your city and refuse to log traffic?

    It’s not that the Apple store is taking away your freedom.  You just need to choose between the two.

    • chenille says:

      Dash’s complaint seems to be that society in general has opted to act mainly through tools that don’t allow metadata, RSS, or whatever, and so turned its back on such standards. That alternatives exist, people just don’t seem so interested in them, is kind of the point.

      Of course, he also mentions a main exception with social networks and IP like “Happy Birthday”.

      • bkad says:

        I think the stronger point was that we’ve become too happy treating private technological infrastructure (e.g. facebook) as if it were public, which in the long run hurts us (limited access, lack of legal protection). I agree with that, I guess.

    • sabik says:

       The thing is… Apple is positioning its app store as a “platform”, a word that connotes common-carrier status… but then it doesn’t honour that connotation. Instead, it’s trying to have it both ways, all the advantages of being a common carrier with none of the obligations.

      The App Store is presented to the phone-buying public as having 800k+ third-party apps… but they’re not really “third-party”. Apple maintains editorial control; in a very real way, the app store has 800k+ Apple apps. They happen to have been developed for Apple by third parties, but that’s a detail, in the same way that the chips inside the phone were made by a third party.

      That dissonance is the problem.

      • Boundegar says:

        I understand.  My point is that there’s a big difference between “connotation” and shackles; but it’s easy to forget that.  Apple wants us to believe it’s their way or the highway, and also wants us to believe the highway is a scary bad place they have tamed for us.  Maybe it’s time to head back to the wilderness.

        How’s that for a mixed metaphor?

      • Stooge says:

        The dissonance is your problem: Apple is not a common carrier.

      • bkad says:

        I guess I disagree that ‘platform’ connotes common-carrier status. 

        The dissonance in Apple’s case is not Apple’s, but my own. I definitely want editorial control of the app store  to block malicious or racist apps and to limit apps which break the human interface design and style guidelines. I think they should do much more of the latter. But there are other decisions of Apple’s I disagree with, so I’m stuck saying, ‘of course it should be a walled garden, but I don’t like the landscaping’, which is not so easy to argue.

  2. ““We have a lot of software that forbids journalism.” ”

    Er, he gives an example in which journalism isn’t forbidden, but one form of publishing it, with other avenues of publishing it (books, web, podcasts, even a HTML5-based interactive game, etc) still wide open.

    Nowhere is journalism forbidden when Apple says they don’t accept certain submissions. One outlet doesn’t accept submissions of certain types. This is not particularly different from most magazines and newspapers, forever. Submit a journalistic article about drone strike locations to Fantasy & Science Fiction or Road & Track, and they’re unlikely to publish it either.

    As they say, “Freedom of the Press” belongs to the guy who owns the press. If one outlet won’t publish you, find another way.

    • > even a HTML5-based interactive game, 

      I take it you don’t do much game development, if you think HTML5 can do anything close to what native code can do.

      Road and Track is a magazine, not a ‘platform.’ The promise of the iOS store is that anyone can create legitimate content and distribute it widely. But the cake is a lie.

  3. Antinous / Moderator says:


  4. GeorgeMokray says:

    It was a very considered and considerable talk.  Bruce Sterling has also mentioned it on his blog as well.  Dash spoke about some important stuff.

  5. Easy solution to this. Part of the reason whenever I see someone using an iPhone I laugh at them inside and assume they are a techno-newb.

    I think the only platform I use that I know actively censors is BoingBoing.

    • Stooge says:

      Every time I see someone look down their nose at “techno-newbs”, I assume they’re an asshole.

      The great thing about assholes is that you don’t have to laugh at them inside; you can do it quite openly.


    • retepslluerb says:

      “I think the only platform I use that I know actively censors is BoingBoing.“

      That’s funny coming from someone whose avatar directly links to Facebook.

    • Cowicide says:

      whenever I see someone using an iPhone I laugh at them inside and assume they are a techno-newb.

      Meanwhile… while you’re laughing on the inside and giving this person you don’t know a smug look…

      He’s got a jailbroken iPhone that’s being used to launch a MitM attack via Pirni to sniff your passwords from your smartphone.

  6. It may be a very small detail, but I lost some trust in the write up on the first line, with:

    “IoS [iphone operating system]”

    • Stooge says:

      What’s the mistake here beyond a typo or two? That iOS isn’t short for iPhone OS but is its updated name?

      • For the same reason that it’s not NAsA or the FbI :)

        And yes, 100% picky.

        But when there are only 3 letters and someone gets the case wrong on 2 of them, it’s worth pointing out, in my opinion. iPhone* Operating System: iOS.

        * I guess these days it’s just iDevice Operating System, but I don’t know if there’s an official line on that.

  7. Stephen Ballantyne says:

    Yeah, iOS is a “walled garden”. But it’s a garden about the size of California, with plenty of stuff in it that simply hasn’t turned up yet in other locations (and in some cases, never will). 

    I asked an Android user what the advantages of her “open” phone were and she showed me an app that covered her home screen with moving snowflakes. Really. 

    I’ll forgo the snowflakes in exchange for generally better software and relative freedom from malware.  

    I’ll even pay extra for the privilege.

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